Date
20 August 2017
People are willing to line up for hours at Jenny Bakery in order to grab a box of its famous butter cookies, which are then often resold for profit. Photo: Jenny Bakery
People are willing to line up for hours at Jenny Bakery in order to grab a box of its famous butter cookies, which are then often resold for profit. Photo: Jenny Bakery

Why Jenny Bakery turns away some local customers

Jenny Bakery is a popular outlet in Hong Kong that specializes in hand-made butter cookies. The products are priced at a premium compared to similar offerings from other stores, but that hasn’t deterred people, especially mainland tourists, from lining up for hours just to grab a bite.

But the bakery has now found itself at the center of a debate after it allegedly turned away a Hong Kong customer, saying it has reserved the cookies for mainland visitors. Netizens saw it as one more instance of retailers sucking up to tourists at the expense of locals.

According to a Tuesday report of Apple Daily, a middle-aged local woman went to Jenny bakery last week to buy a box of cookies for her daughter, but was turned away by the store staff.

When questioned about the incident, the bakery’s owner Jenny Yeung later clarified that the shop has no intention of halting cookie sales to locals. What the bakery wants to do is just curb profiteering and speculative activities, she said.

Jenny Bakery gained fame after it was discovered by some mainland media. The bakery has earned positive reviews online. In the third-party restaurant review site Dianping.com, there are nearly 1,700 comments on the store, which has rating of 4 out of 5 stars. The cookies are now a must-buy item for Chinese visitors with hundreds of mainland tourists flocking to the store every day.

There are only two outlets in Hong Kong as of now — one is located at Sheung Wan while the other is at Tsim Sha Tsui. Because of its small scale, demand vastly outstrips supply.

Some people line up early in the morning and try to buy as many cookies as they can from Jenny stores. They then try to resell the stuff through Taobao.com, hoping to make a quick buck. A simple keyword search on Taobao reveals as many as 4,000 sellers online. The selling price can go as high as 200 yuan (US$32.5) a box, compared to HK$140 (US$16.7) in Hong Kong stores.

In order to combat the cookie speculators, mostly local housewives and South Asian workers, Jenny’s sales staff is given discretionary power to turn away customers suspected to be grey goods traders. It is against this backdrop that Yeung has insisted that the bakery doesn’t discriminate against local people at all, but only seeks to curb profiteers.

The bakery is so popular that it sells 5,000 boxes of butter cookies a day, which translates into monthly revenue of as much as HK$2 million.

Related stories:

Should Hong Kong adopt price discrimination against tourists?

Want to make some extra pocket money? Head to Jenny Bakery

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

EJ Insight writer

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