The Art of doing Business:

Our factory in Ningbo has a canteen that provides three meals a day, breakfast in the morning at 7 am, lunch at 11:30am, and dinner at 6:30 pm.

The meals provided are not fanciful, but plenty, and nutritional. After eating in the canteen I noticed there were three cases of local beers tucked under the food dispensing counter. By the look of it, the number has neither gone up or down, just sitting there.

Curiosity got the best of me, and I asked the cook whose beer was that? The cook shrugged his shoulder, saying that the canteen used to sell a bottle here, a bottle there to the workers whenever anybody asked. But business has been slow lately, blah, blah, blah.

Mind you, having a beer over lunch once awhile is tolerated here, provided one does not over doing it. The canteen was doing a pretty brisk business on pay days, at least that was the way it was.

Until one day, the guy who operated a sort of convenient store out of a tin shack across the road from us invited out cook over for a meal, a drink and a smoke. Our cook obliged, after all who does not enjoy a free drink and a free smoke, with dinner on top?

After dinner was served, plenty of drink and cigarettes were passed around the table. The proprietor of the convenient store popped this question, “Well, we are thinking about expand the size of the store a bit to include a cigarette machine, put in a new pop and beer cooler… And by the way, how is business in your canteen selling beer to the boys?”

Our cook pondered the question for a minute as I was told, then said,” Well, it really is not worth the trouble, we didn’t have a proper cooler for it. I was thinking about not selling it anyways.”

The fact of the matter is, the factory canteen has a freezer in the kitchen, but they are for frozen foods, we do not have a fridge for storing any other food items. All the meals are prepared fresh day to day. There was never any need to have a fridge. So the room temp beer for sale now and again is just the cook’s pocket money.

Now he had a nice meal from his one and only competitor on the block, he was left with very little wiggle room….

The three case of beer probably are still sitting under the counter. By the way, as local custom has it, a lot of people prefer room temperature beer as such. I don’t know why?

The convenient store owner probably would go on to bigger and better things someday! 

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