Nov 8, 2011

one lucky cat.

On the night of Michael's wedding, I met a man named Bao Xu Wei (english name: Bob).

You may remember him as the man whose first words to me were, "Do you know Target?" And thus, a friendship was born (and also a homesickness for the dollar section and Target clothes).

During Michael's after-party at KTV, while I sat amidst a random group of Asian men singing songs in Chinese and lamenting with Michael that he was old and married, Bob invited me to visit his factory and "pick out whatever I wanted." I told him that I did not have a pet, but thanked him for his offer.

Lo and behold a week later, I was picking out baby Mu Shu at a market and biking him home in a bag slung from my shoulder.

I texted Bob and asked him if I could purchase some of his products because I had acquired a pet kitty. He called back that he was away on business but would call me as soon as he retured to Hangzhou. Weeks went by and I didn't hear from him - so I just supposed he forgot about me or didn't want to give/sell me anything/deal with a foreigner.

Oh man I was wrong.

A few days ago Bob called me. He was back in town and wanted to make good on his promise to take me to his factory.

This morning I waited for him at the main gate of my school and at 9:30am sharp he rolled up in his SUV (rare in Ch.ina) and off we drove to his company 30 mins away.

Reminder: I met this guy once, at a wedding, and half of our 4 conversations were while slightly inebriated at wedding karoake celebration. A month later, he's driving me down the road. I feel like these things don't happen in America.

I took the opportunity to learn about Bob and how he started his company. He worked for an insurance company for 3 years after graduating college, then decided to break free and begin his own business. Today he is a USD millionaire (his worker told me, not him, he is humble and kind).

He began online and through a process of knowing people, began acquiring contracts from companies abroad to make pet supplies. He bought a factory, hired some young and capable college grads, paid them all higher than average salary, and plunged into the world of international trade.

Today he exports to Target, Home Goods, Martha Stewart Pets, Petsmart, and a slew of European companies I'd never heard of, but nodded and went, "oohhhhh" when he mentioned them.

He took me to his 3 room office and started throwing things at me: stuffed animals, a cat scratcher tree, a litter box, airport carrier, backpack carrier, cat purse, collars, balls...etc. I physically could not carry everything. I just stood there and made small talk with his 2 employees while he handed me more things to take to, "my baby."

I am really glad I speak Ch.inese because our entire interactions were in Chi.nese. We were able to gab and chat with barely any problems - except when he went into a long speech about his belief in fortune-telling - I lost him a lot there. I need to work on my "magic" vocabulary. ha.

After about an hour, we all packed up my loot in his car and headed to lunch at a fancy pants Japanese restaurant by West lake. It was one of the most expensive lunches I've had in Ch.ina and his company paid for it.

Remember: I have done nothing for this man except talk to him and ask him questions, and he gave me hundreds of RMB worth of goods and bought me lunch. It is a true fact that I will never be able to out-give my Chin.ese friends.

He drove me home and I had to have one of the workers help me carry everything to my dorm. I was nervous about them seeing so much cat stuff considering my cat is a secret, but the dorm guard was on a walk outside and didn't seem to understand what was going on as we scurried past him. (thank goodness).

When baby cat saw his new loot he was on sensory overload! Which I was really thankful for because I have been concerned for his stimulation lately. I am often gone 10-14 hours a day and I have been nervous he might not have quality socialization, exercise, etc. He is a friendly kitty and has a great personality, but I feel bad for the little dude alone all day.

Well now, he has the entire inside of Petsmart to keep him occupied all day! Thanks to Bob, the generous business genius.

Bob's company:

the dog bed storage room, chancer are, if you bought a dog bed from Target in the past 2 years, it has been in this room:

Bob in his pet supply glory:

legit. Made in Ch.ina. Bob sells this dog bed to Martha Stewart pets for 8USD and makes a profit of 10% on each purchase. The tag had a price of $34.99. No wonder everything is made here:

too bad Mu Shu is a boy! All the pink/cute things were so precious! Bob and I talked about how when the economic crisis happened in America, the companies began ordering fewer larger more expensive items, and told Bob's company to focus on smaller toys. He explained that even though the economy is bad, Americans still care a lot about their animals and are willing to spend small amounts of money on pet toys. His business has grown by focussing on smaller items during the economic crisis. Fascinating.

His worker girl also said to me, "Your Thanksgiving is coming." Yes, I replied. "So then you have many sales! The price is so low!" Homegirl knows about the holiday season and she doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas. It was interesting to see how they learn and interact with their American customers.

Bob's awesome workers at lunch. They had such a great group-persona. It seemed like a happy place to work. Their English names are Nico (girl) and Layne (boy). Nico is about to get married and her fiance is a tour guide of Hangzhou. Layne comes from a family of fishermen 2 hours away from HZ by the sea, but he doesn't want to be a fisherman like his father nad brother, so he entered the business world when he graduate from college last year. Both of them make more money with Bob than at a regular office job. Average entry salary is $280rmb a month, they make $350 a month.

It was interesting because I can see how some Chi.nese people (and foreigners), "strike it rich," with hard work and the right connections in the international trade world. Bob asked me if I would go into internation trade since I am here and have a lot of connections and speak Chin.ese. I told him that I do not have any desire to do business and that my brain is not logical enough, but that if I ever meet anyone with a pet supply need, I will send them his way. Ha.

Mu Shu observing his new goods with wonder and awe:

One happy little Chin.ese kitty:

It was an interesting morning. I was humbled to be given so much by someone I hardly know. I definitely do not behave that generously on a regular basis. I have a lot to learn from Bob.

walk slow. xoxo.


agapelife said...

another great story Jess! You and your cat are so presh!

Mom said...

So cute! Your kitty definitely is spoiled!