Buy­ing New Year good­ies the old fash­ioned way

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG YING in Shang­hai

Al­though a grow­ing num­ber of peo­ple are turn­ing to on­line shops for their Chi­nese New Year pur­chases, most of the el­derly still pre­fer to do things the old school way by jostling with the crowds at brickand-mor­tar stores.

“I just spent the week­end ac­com­pa­ny­ing my mother to buy goods for the New Year. For peo­ple of my mother’s gen­er­a­tion, this is some­thing they need to do be­cause it is a rit­ual to wel­come the New Year,” said Lu Yi, who works at a multi­na­tional com­pany in Shang­hai.

“Most of the stuff we buy is not just avail­able dur­ing the New Year, but the feel­ing of see­ing our fridge and pantry filled makes my mother sat­is­fied.”

Si­t­u­ated on the bustling Nan­jing Road, Sanyang Store of South­ern Spe­cial­ties has been the go-to des­ti­na­tion for el­derly peo­ple dur­ing the fes­tive pe­riod.

Its his­tory can be traced back to 1870, the ninth year of the reign of Em­peror Tongzhi in the Qing Dy­nasty (1644-1911), when it was jointly es­tab­lished by eight share­hold­ers sur­named Tang, all of whom hailed from Ban­l­i­tang in Ningbo, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

“The Spring Fes­ti­val sea­son, which usu­ally falls in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary, is when our sales nor­mally peak. This pe­riod alone ac­counts for one-third of our an­nual sales,” said Sun Kai, gen­eral man­ager of Sanyang Store of South­ern Spe­cial­ties.

Most of Sanyang’s loyal cus­tomers are those aged above 45 and many of them travel all the way from the sub­ur­ban ar­eas just to buy 100,000 yuan ($14,600) since early Jan­uary.

Chi­nese ham pro­cessed in Jin­hua of Zhe­jiang prov­ince is re­garded the best in the coun­try, and the store sells an aver­age of 50 por­tions ev­ery day.

Lo­cals have a pref­er­ence for goods that have “lucky names”. For ex­am­ple, the Chi­nese char­ac­ters for dried lon­gans com­prise the word “dragon”, which is an aus­pi­cious sym­bol in Chi­nese cul­ture. Mean­while, peanuts con­note longevity, and Chi­nese ham, tra­di­tion­ally a pop­u­lar gift in the Yangtze River Delta re­gion, sym­bol­izes pros­per­ity.

The shop is also well-known for its pas­try se­lec­tions that vary from sea­son to sea­son — spring short­breads, sum­mer cakes, au­tumn pan­cakes and winter can­dies.


Sanyang Store of South­ern Spe­cial­i­ties is al­ways packed with cus­tomers ahead of the Spring Fes­ti­val as peo­ple rush to buy in­gre­di­ents for the New Year's Eve re­union din­ner.

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