The story appears on

Page A5

November 23, 2010

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro

Illegal flowers sellers cash in on grief

CARRYING bunches of white chrysanthemums in both hands, a group of people mingled with the crowds gathered at the burnt-out high-rise on Jiaozhou Road yesterday afternoon; but they were not there to mourn.

Dressed in black, wandering around and looking at the ruins from time to time, the group wore serious expressions and blended in with the crowd. But they dropped their act when they approached members of the public and whispered: "Want a bunch of cheap flowers? Only 5 yuan (75 US cents) a bunch."

The site of last Monday's blaze has become a focal point for city residents to come and pay their respects to the people who died in the fire. And with the crowds have come illegal flower sellers, scenting an opportunity to make a quick buck out of the tragedy.

They buy flowers cheaply from nearby stores or simply pick them, then sell them to mourners for 5 to 10 yuan per bunch - complete with discounts for 10 or more.

Yesterday, following complaints about what residents called this "illegal, sickening business from people with no conscience," urban management officials arrived at the scene.

An official told Shanghai Daily they had caught several sellers at the site and instructed them to distribute their flowers among mourners for free. However, yesterday afternoon, flower sellers evaded detection by assuming sorrowful expressions and pretending to be mourners when they saw officials approach.

And when the officials passed, they continued their business.

Many people were too distraught to speak out. "At this time I am in no mood for bargaining with them," said a local. "I just want to express my condolences."

In a flower shop near the fire scene, the owner was trimming white and yellow chrysanthemums. The store has been busy since Shanghai residents began leaving flowers at the blaze site. The owner said she did not know whether the flower sellers had bought flowers from her and sold them at higher prices. The price in her store is 2 yuan for each bunch.

"It's very bad for them to be doing this," the owner simply said.

However, other groups have been showing the better side of human nature. At the crossroads near the building, teachers and students from a local high school handed out flowers to passers-by.

Students donated money at school to buy more than 1,000 chrysanthemums.

"We are just a small group of representatives," said a teacher. "More are on their way."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend