(BEIJING) AP — With the Beijing Winter Olympics underway, customers have been racing to stores to snap up scarce souvenirs, including the particularly popular stuffed versions of Games mascot Bing Dwen Dwen, a panda in a winter coat.
People showed up with stools Sunday to wait overnight in freezing temperatures outside Gongmei Emporium on the Wangfujing pedestrian mall in central Beijing.
Some were from a mini-industry of people who are paid to stand in line to buy the latest smart phones and other consumer crazes for clients.
The pandas were sold out Monday at many locations, including at the Olympics facilities, where Chinese volunteers and foreign visitors lined up for hours.
Gongmei sold out of Bing Dwen Dwen toys in 30 minutes, said one woman who would give only her surname, Dong.
She said she arrived 30 minutes before the store opened but failed to get one.
A sign in Gongmei’s window said it had 300 Bing Dwen Dwen figures and buyers were allowed one each.
It promised more Tuesday.
The Beijing Olympic organizing committee asked souvenir factories to make more, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.
Many reopened this week after shutting down for two weeks or more during the Lunar New Year holiday.
Dong said she and three family members would take turns waiting in line through the night for Gongmei to open Tuesday.
At mid-afternoon, about 40 customers were already in line.
Employees with bullhorns urged them not to stay overnight, when temperatures were forecast to fall to minus-6 degrees C (21 degrees F).
Gongmei’s Wangfujing flagship sold Olympics merchandise worth 3 million yuan ($470,000) on Friday, the day of the opening ceremony, the official newspaper Global Times reported.
Wang Qianliang, 60, and his wife, visiting from Xi’an in western China, waited for two hours but failed to get a Bing Dwen Dwen.
Wang said he would come back Tuesday.
“My child really wants to have one,” Wang said.
Wang Jianwei moved forward to the store entrance Monday afternoon.
Wang said he stood in line for 30 minutes because he wanted to buy a blind box of Bing Dwen Dwen which still had some in stock.
He said he couldn’t understand those people who planned to wait overnight.
“You buy when you can. But if you can’t buy it now, just wait until stock replenishment in the coming days. Everyone can buy it by then.”