Call it an ice cream war in a hot shopping mall.
We can’t help scratching our head over the stories about two small ice cream stores in Dragon Centre in Sham Shui Po.
First, it was Ice Cha Cha which saw a long queue of buyers who were attracted to its special HK$5-for-two-scoops offer.
To put it into perspective, the Godiva store sells two scoops for HK$100.
Unfortunately, Ice Cha Cha is to close on Mother’s Day because the landlord, Eton Properties, is not renewing the lease. No reason for the termination was given but it seems that the ice cream store drew too much traffic from jealous neighboring stores.
Knowing that the discounted ice cream will soon run out, customers turned up in greater numbers, stretching the waiting time to more than an hour.
One might think that not many people in Hong Kong would line up an hour to save a few dollars but that happened in one of the poorest districts in the city, and under the hot weather at that.
But the long queue does not benefit the ultimate landlord, Lucio Tan, the second richest man in the Philippines, because his flagship mall only draws low-end customers who are not spending enough in the mall.
So this week, the mall came up with an idea to balance out the situation.
On its official Facebook page, it shared a promotion by another ice cream company, Ice Cream Daren, reminding customers to visit the store.
The store, which is on the same floor as Ice Cha Cha, offers four scoops for HK$10 but strangely the come-on does not attract many customers.
Justice is what customers want because the two stores have been put in an unfair playing field.
Underlying the discontent is the obvious question: why did the owner discontinue a popular store?
The discontent quickly spread to the mainstream media which attacked the landlord for creating a PR crisis.
An official Facebook post got so much criticism someone deleted it and apologised for the misunderstanding.
Even Mr. Wong, the owner of the other ice cream store, blamed the landlord for not giving him a heads-up before sharing the post, saying customers have been yelling in front of his store and making him unhappy.
So is this the end of story?
Landlords bullying small tenants happens every day and the torture seems endless.
What we know is Ice Cha Cha will move out after Mother’s Day and it is preparing 300 special dessert giveaways for its loyal customers and trying to find another location to reopen.
The cold-shouldering of the irresistible HK$10 scoops may well be over.
Well, that is typical of Hong Kong consumers – they complain, buy and complain.
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