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New York Daily Photo: Ridiculous
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Wednesday, 20 August 2008


There are discounts, sales, deals and competitive pricing. Then there is RIDICULOUS pricing. And if u want to see the ridiculous, go to Chinatown. The Chinese sell and consume a lot of produce, much of it sold on the streets from carts and open air shops. On my last visit, I was absolutely stunned with the pricing on their goods. Can you really sell produce with differences of 200-500% from other vendors? I purchased bing cherries at $1.00 per pound! Mangoes and papayas were being sold in cases of 9 for $9. Nineteen kiwis for $2? I felt like I was buying stolen merchandise. The quality is typically excellent - the turnover is high and everything is quite fresh. Things don't linger at the bottom of a pile for days.
Perhaps the issue is not so much that Chinatown discounts so heavily, but that everyone else marks up so much. I have lived in Manhattan many years and have become accustomed to high prices - I typically never compare with pricing outside the city. See note below.
In defense of the merchants, rents in Manhattan are extraordinary and food sellers do not get any particular special treatment. One green grocer I patronize saw their rent go from $38,000 per month to $45,000 several years ago. And their electric bills are $18,000 per month. Unfortunately, the costs need to be passed onto the customer. Outdoor markets and food carts have minimal overhead.
I once recall being at a New Years Eve party, thrown by an friend who lives in a loft in Chinatown. At one point we ran out of orange juice and I was asked to go on a search mission. It was late and I was not shopping for bargains. I made my purchase in the first Chinese deli I came across. I was stunned by the pricing which was about 50% less than what I saw elsewhere in Manhattan for the same exact item and brand. When I returned and expressed my amazement, my friend only commented in a matter of fact way: "when it comes to price, you can't beat Chinatown." ...

Note: I just called my mother who lives over one hundred miles from the city in a rural area. She confirmed current pricing at the local supermarket of cherries at $4.99/lb and kiwis at 2 for $1. She was flabbergasted at the pricing I gave her. Chinatown rules.


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