Though they’re fierce rivals in the sports shoe and apparel business, Nike and Adidas are roommates in China.
In most malls, their stores are housed together in a maze-like complex with other competitors such as Puma and Reebok. Each brand has its own display rooms, but they’re all connected in the same building.
I’m not talking about the setup you see in a U.S. department or sporting goods store, where Nike and Adidas products sit side by side. And it’s not the same as outlet malls, where the sports apparel stores are usually close to each other.
Here, the stores are actually under one roof. At first, I thought it might be a rent-saving move. But then I read that Nike, Adidas, Puma and Reebok are all distributed in China by the same company, Belle International Holdings. So much for competition.
Price tags are another quirky part of Chinese shopping.
Sure, price tags can be confusing in the U.S. One tag may have three different numbers written on it as the store keeps dropping the price to clear inventory.
But in China, it seems no one ever pays the original price.
As soon as an item is put on display, it has at least one sales price attached to it – and that is often 50 percent less than the original. Plus, even in department stores and malls, there is usually room to negotiate. So, while the sign may tell you a sports jacket costs 1,500 yuan ($240), don’t be surprised if you end up paying less than 600 yuan ($96).
During my first week in Zhengzhou, I quickly learned that construction never stops in China. Workers were gutting a building across the street from my hotel room, and every night I would be serenaded by the jarring sounds of jackhammers and electric drills. Often it continued after midnight.
I’ve recently been having flashbacks to those days, thanks to a spate of late-night construction near my apartment. They’re widening a road, tunneling for a subway extension and building a massive office and apartment complex, all within earshot of my room.
I’ve tried earplugs and headphones to block out the noise, but sleep remains elusive. It’s like living with a heavy metal band.