New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ridiculous

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.

10 comments:

Saretta said...

You're not complaining are you? ;-)

Snapper said...

That's a bountiful photo and intriguing commentary. Well done!

Garden Gal said...

I live in N. California after having lived in S. Nevada for over 10 years. There is no place, not a farmer's market, not a street vendor, nowhere in either states that you can find cherries of any nature for less than $4.99 a pound. Kiwis - same sitch. Fruit - grown right here in our lovely state - is typically no less than $2.50 a pound, no matter what it is.

How 'bout sending some folks from Chinatown out west?? There's a whole new market out here!

angela said...

When prices are so low its usually the grower who suffers..
Lovely photo the food does look very fresh and tempting.

Wayne said...

My first reaction, 'fell off the back of a truck'. Can a farmer grow and pick cherries for $1.00/lb.?
Obviously they aren't stolen but it raises more questions than it answers for me.

Christopher said...

The prices are so cheap for all the reasons stated. Makes me wish I lived closer to Chinatown!

Luiza said...

Same thing in Ridley Road Market, London. Five avocados for £1!

Willa said...

It's the same back here in Montreal, in our Chinatown, prices are ridiculously low!

We like that, don't we?
;)

soothsayer said...

the produce is cheap at this particular stand because they are selling bruised and leftover fruit.

if you go elsewhere in chinatown, prices are much higher, closer to market rate, even above market rate as compared to fruit stands elsewhere in nyc (like in brighton beach, brooklyn)

new york times article on chinatown cheap produce.
http://www.nychinatown.org/articles/nytimes020310.html

Anonymous said...

Would anyone know if there are any organic produce available for sale (lower than farmer's market prices and Whole Foods) at Chinatown Manhattan or Chinatowns elsewhere? Thanks in advance for reply.