Small stores the key to un­der­stand­ing the mar­ket

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HU YONGQI

Eight months ago, Xie Ruicong had the sur­prise of her life when Premier Li Ke­qiang vis­ited her book­store un­ex­pect­edly.

On April 25, Li vis­ited the Jian­shan Book­store in Kuanzhai An­cient Street, a tra­di­tional cul­tural hotspot in Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince.

Dur­ing his visit, Li asked Xie, the man­ager, about her home­town, her in­come and her life in Chengdu. He also quizzed her about the store’s best-sell­ing items.

“The premier asked me the mean­ing of Jian­shan, the book­store’s name. I told him that it means ‘open the door to see the moun­tain and lead a sim­ple life’,” Xie said, re­call­ing that Li bought a book and two post­cards, one black and white and one color. “I re­mem­ber that the premier said the black-and-white post­card rep­re­sented the past, while the color one rep­re­sented the fu­ture.”

Li’s visit re­sulted in a swarm of vis­i­tors cu­ri­ous to know what he had bought. A photo of Li in the store that Xie posted on the wall was a lit­tle out of fo­cus, but it still at­tracted cus­tomers. “We sold many more books in May and June than dur­ing the same pe­riod last year,” she said.

Prior to his trip to the book­store, Li vis­ited a su­per­mar­ket, where he fo­cused on the sup­ply and de­mand of agri­cul­tural goods and price fluc­tu­a­tions. The su­per­mar­ket pro­vides on­line ser­vices, such as im­me­di­ate de­liv­ery, and also con­ducts in-store tests for pes­ti­cide residues in food, a new model that pro­vides safe food via con­ve­nient chan­nels, ac­cord­ing to Li.

On Dec 5, at an event to mark the 30th an­niver­sary of the China Pri­vately Owned Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion, Li eval­u­ated the role of small pri­vate busi­nesses in job cre­ation and meet­ing di­ver­si­fied de­mand.

Dur­ing his tours, Li makes a point of vis­it­ing small stores, and al­though the vis­its may seem in­sig- nif­i­cant, they act as on-the-spot sur­veys that pro­vide him with grass­roots in­for­ma­tion about lo­cal busi­ness en­vi­ron­ments, in­comes and net prof­its, the tax bur­den and mar­ket vi­tal­ity, said Xia Xueluan, a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor of so­ci­ol­ogy at Sanya Univer­sity, Hainan prov­ince.

Last month, when Li vis­ited Shang­hai to chair a meet­ing on govern­ment pro­cesses in the city, he praised the lo­cal govern­ment’s treat­ment of two stores as an ex­am­ple of a flex­i­ble ap­proach to lo­cal prob­lems.

Last year, the stores were is­sued with clo­sure or­ders be­cause they were op­er­at­ing out of rented prem- ises des­ig­nated as un­suit­able for com­mer­cial pur­poses. On­line me­dia out­lets re­ported on the story and when the lo­cal govern­ment un­der­stood the stores’ value to the com­mu­nity, it found a way of al­low­ing them to con­tinue to op­er­ate.

“Some stores, run by grass­roots peo­ple with a small amount of money, en­joy good public rep­u­ta­tions and meet a num­ber of de­mands,” Li told the del­e­gates.

Premier Li Ke­qiang vis­its the Jian­shan Book­store in Kuanzhai An­cient Street, Chengdu, Sichuan prov­ince.

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