Buying New Year goodies the old fashioned way
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.