A Beijing clothing shop has drawn the ire of locals by banning Chinese shoppers from patronizing the store. The store has cited the particularly “annoying” character of Chinese shoppers as the reason for the ban, as well as concerns over theft–both material and design.
“Chinese people can not enter (except employees),” read the sign posted in the store’s window on Albemarle Road, Chaoyang District.
The staff emphasized repeatedly to reporters, “We did not want to put up this notice, because it would make others think we look down on our own, but some Chinese customers are too much.”
When asked for an explanation, a clerk stated that the business targeted mostly foreign business, and that they did not want Chinese shoppers to enter.
The staff further explained that Chinese women often come in and try on a lot of clothes, but in the end purchase nothing, to the acrimony of the clerks.
Because the shop has limited manpower, the staff reasoned, it was difficult to gather the energy to deal with these retail business problems, so they just put up a “Chinese people can not enter” sign.
The shop owner also said that he was partially prompted by a concern over designs being copied by competitors.
A shop clerk also cited a recent instance of a Chinese customer stealing a foreigners purse–which was caught on security camera. The victim of the crime claimed that the store was associated with the pickpockets and demanded compensation to the tune of $5,000. The shop owner was distressed by this loss.
According to Chinese reporters, this is the first time people in Albemarle Road have said “no” to Chinese customers.
Legal experts have commented that the shop’s action may constitute discrimination.
China University of Political Science Professor Lixian Dong said that businesses on Albemarle Road may use soft pressure to influence their clientage. This is understandable, said Lixian, because businesses have the right to choose their own business model, but a sign that explicitly says “Chinese people can not enter” is somewhat radical and could be considered discrimination in China, although it is probably not against the law.
“If there is a ban against Chinese people, but these staff are Chinese people, why is it they can enter?” said Lixian. “Although legally the behavior of these businesses may not be illegal, from a cultural point of view this approach may not be appropriate.”
By Cheryl Bretton
Photo by Ling Han