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September 1, 2009

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Business brisk for sellers of fake Haibaos and souvenirs

I know I bought a fake Haibao, but I don't care, it's just a souvenir and is much cheaper," a tourist surnamed Wang from China's Sichuan Province said. She just paid 15 yuan (US$2.19) to buy a 30-centimeter-tall Haibao doll, the mascot of the World Expo 2010 Shanghai, in a store in the city's Yuyuan Garden for her son.

An authentic Haibao doll of the same size is 95 yuan in the official Expo souvenir shops and the price is the same across the country.

The woman's five-year-old son held the big doll with a smile on his face. He shouted "Haibao, Haibao," but he might not know that it's not really the Expo 2010 mascot. It is a lighter blue in color and fatter than the real mascot.

More people, especially children, have come to recognize the mascot and tourists buy Haibao toys as souvenirs.

But an increasingly number of stores are selling counterfeit Haibao dolls.

On Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall, one of the most crowded commercial areas of the city, street peddlers brazenly lay out their stalls selling fake Haibao toys in front of the largest licensed Expo souvenir flagship store of the city.

In People's Square, peddlers divide their fake Expo products into two parts and tell passersby seriously. "The five-yuan Haibao doll is fake, don't buy them, but the 15-yuan one is absolutely authentic."

Yuyuan Garden area, a tourist destination as well as one of the largest small commodity wholesaling markets in the city, has the largest number of stores selling fake Haibao toys. Almost one in every two stores displays Haibao dolls hanging in the shop fronts.

The fake Haibao dolls are quite popular. About 1,000 dolls can be sold on average every day, a store keeper near the garden said proudly. But when being asked where the dolls come from, she became cautious and refused to answer.

Her store is only 10 square meters but within three minutes, she sold a 15-yuan Haibao doll and a three-yuan Haibao key ring.

But the licensed stores in the same area can only sell no more than 100 Haibao dolls every day, said Zhang Mingyi, manager of a licensed Expo souvenir shop in the garden.

The fake-item stores have great impact on the business of the licensed shops. Zhang said his store opened in May and was the first store selling Expo products in the Yuyuan Garden area. The sales volume was about 10,000 yuan every day at that time, but dropped dramatically to only 3,000 yuan as more and more fake Haibao stores showed up.

A saleswoman surnamed Shi in Expo's Nanjing Road flagship store said sales had decreased by more than 30 percent because of the peddlers in front of their store.

"The city's departments should crack down on these stores, not only to protect us but also to avoid buyers being fooled," Zhang said.

However, most of the fake Haibao buyers (a large number of them tourists from other provinces) are not really victims. Most of them buy the fake item on purpose and the low price is the biggest attraction.

While the prices of fake Haibao dolls are only 10 percent of the authentic version's, peddlers will also provide a five to 10 yuan discount if people bargain with them.

If people buy more than 50 dolls, they will offer a wholesale price which is only half of the original bid.

"I can buy six different kinds of fake Haibao dolls for the price of an authentic one," said a seven-year-old tourist surnamed Zheng from Zhejiang Province's Wenzhou City. Her mother bought a 20-yuan fake Haibao doll for her, which was almost as tall as the girl, and another two for her brother and cousin.

"The authentic stores are quite difficult to find, but it is quite convenient to buy a Haibao doll in the fake stores," the mother surnamed Xiang said.

There are five licensed stores in the Yuyuan Garden area, while more than 100 fake Haibao stores have been spotted in the area.

Different kinds

Along Fumin Road beside Yuyuan Garden, fake Haibao are rampant. The "Better City, Better Life" Expo theme is printed on a wall at the beginning of the road but mobile vendors put huge boxes filled with fake dolls in the middle of the road.

Around 7pm every night, a truck filled with various fake Haibao dolls drives in to deliver them one after another to the stores, Zheng said.

On Nanjing Road, peddlers take fake dolls from tricycles stationed on Zhejiang Road M., a small road crossing the pedestrian street, said Shi.

Officials of Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau have confiscated many fake Haibao toys in the Yuyuan Garden area since the fake Haibao appeared in May, but the sellers start up again right after the officials leave, said a security staff member surnamed Miao of the Yuyuan Garden Little Commodity Market.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau along with the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination have spared no effort to crack down on the fake Expo products, said Pan Gang, a supervisor of the Legal Department of the Expo bureau.

Early last month, the two bureaus confiscated 3,000 fake Haibao dolls on Nanjing Road E., the largest fake-Haibao sales case broken by the organizer, Pan said.

The Expo logo, slogan and Haibao image cannot be used without the bureau's permission.


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