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Courtesy helps store prosper as trading activity rebounds

By Peng Yining and Li Peixuan | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-21 08:42

Stall owners prepare for opening time in the shopping street at the Vanke Times Center in Beijing on March 7. WANG JING/CHINA DAILY

Allergy problem

Whenever Ma finds a new type of food product for DFC, he insists on tasting it to make sure it is delicious.

"Generally speaking, as long as the new product is not wrapped in a gift box, I must taste it myself," he said.

When some customers asked Ma why his jelly oranges always tasted better than other people's, he said, "It's because I taste them over and over again until I'm sure the product has no problems." When Ma goes to purchase fruit, regardless of whether it's freezing or raining, he always takes one of the items from the truck, wipes it clean and eats it. However, he is allergic to almost every fruit, so his taste test can cause problems.

"When I finish eating, my mouth goes numb. I can't even inhale deeply. Sometimes, it is really cold when I take fruit from the truck and eat it in the open air," he said. "In fact, I am allergic to all fruit except watermelons and oranges. After tasting, my throat becomes particularly sore and swollen, but I have to eat it. I must gauge its quality. It's not severe, though. After a while, not thinking about it and taking a rest, I gradually recover from the allergy.

"I have to do this for my store. Trust is the core of any business. The store will not survive without customers' trust in the long run."

Ma is a Beijinger, and the store is near his home. So, unlike some former shop owners on the same street who took the money and left after a year or two, he wants to gradually scale up the business and gain a foothold in the area. "The key to doing business is small profits, honesty and good service. High-quality goods, reasonably cheap prices. Don't deceive customers and always be considerate," he said.

Those qualities are the result of Ma's upbringing. He grew up in a courtyard for family members of Supreme Court employees, which was once the residence of Nian Gengyao, a renowned general during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Beijingers are famous for their elaborate formality. The family seniors teach children all kinds of formalities and etiquette, such as the correct greetings when meeting people you know, being trustworthy and reciprocal, and other positive things. So, from an early age, Ma learned how to be considerate and get along with other people, which has contributed to DFC's success.

"After all, the store is run solely by me and my wife, so we treat our customers very much like our parents. For example, no matter which one of us sees a senior pulling a trolley to the store or about to leave, we help take the trolley in or out. Consideration like that is a must. When selling boxes of food, if there is no handle, we use tape to make a handle for the customers to use. These kinds of small favors are countless," he said.

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