Better Services, Easier Shopping

Source: PEKING REVIEW Vol.1 No.4, March 25, 1958

Transcribed for

One afternoon customers queued up in front of a barber shop in the eastern suburbs of Peking. But the people in the queue weren’t waiting for a haircut. They were waiting their turn for the yichienpu— the “Opinions Book,” which is a feature in shops in China — to write In their praise of the improved service of the past few weeks. So many people wanted to express their appreciation that they had to form a queue. “Your service is as good as the department store at Tienchiao,” (which, in Peking these days, is a household word for excellent services) one of the customers wrote.

Speaking of queues, you see less and less of them. The worst queues used to be at the booking offices —at railway stations and theatres. Now in Shanghai, railway ticket windows arc open day and night. This round-the-clock service, which began on March 13, has put an end to queues, to the acclaim of all passengers. In Peking, one of the Peking opera houses outside Chienmen Gate keeps its box-office open 24 hours a day.

Theatres are producing more shows and putting on extra performances in the cities. Troupes take their shows to the factories and the co-operatives. Before, only second and third rate theatrical companies went on the road. Now top-notch actors and actresses are making personal appearances at the mines and factories and on makeshift stages in the countryside. The Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, which used to be quite sheltered, has broken with its tradition and is now performing for factory workers at their canteens. Yu Yi-hsuan, one of China’s leading sopranos, sang at an out-of-the-way small teahouse in Tientsin with a capacity audience of only 200, to the delight of very surprised customers.

Two women hurriedly came into a new shop near the railway station in Wuhan. One had forgotten her toilet articles and the other wanted some warm garment for the trip. They were happy to find a shop open at eleven p.m. They got what they wanted. It is a new type of shop known as the “morning-and-night shop” and is open when other shops are closed — from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and from 8:30 p.m. to midnight.

Housewives are grateful to the rectification campaign in more ways than one, because it has made shopping easier for them. Grocers are making the rounds of the streets and grain stores now deliver the housewives’ orders to their doorsteps.

Whereas before they had to get out early in the morning and queue up for their meat, they can now buy meat in the afternoon too. The butchers give extra service, cutting up the meat the way the customer desires — slices, slivers, cubes, etc. One housewife was so pleased with the service of the butcher that the first thing she did when she got home was to ask her granddaughter to write “Excellent Service” in bold characters on a piece of red paper to be sent to the butcher.

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