There is always something special about Shanghai, the famous Avocado Lady is one perfect sample. If you start talking about the Avocado Lady to English speaking Chinese people, probably none of them will understand what you mean and wondering if it is an urban myth. But to many expats she is one of Shanghai’s urban legends. Known as the Shanghai local business owner Jiang Qin, her claim to fame is the selection of imported foods she stocks at her small grocery store on Wulumuqi Lu which undercut prices at Cityshop and the like. Now, it’s easy to overlook the place (actually, the number of foreigners shopping in the place is a big hint to finding it and the store’s been so successful it’s doubled in size) but step inside and you’ll find a good range of imported cheese and rare finds (Do you like Sichuan pepper in your cheese? She’s got it.), meats and fish, herbs, spices, olives, mustards, jams, the list goes on and of course those famous avocados for 10RMB per piece.
The personal story of this interesting and hard-working woman is really inspiring. 20 years ago, she came to Shanghai from Nantong(a nearby city around 3 hours by bus). And she started small business of a vegetable and grocery store. During the years, she learnt how to speak English and western cooking from her expats clients. Amazingly, she is always able to find special things that her clients wanted to buy. This made her different and stand out from the crowds.
As I know from talking with her, Ms Liang tought herself English, and learnt it by being open, chatting with her clients. Without computer and internet skills, she is able to search things that people can not find in Shanghai. In 365 days, she will only rest for 3 days and go back to her home town during the Chinese new year, the store opens every day at 4:30am.
Honestly, I am not sure if I can do better…