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Thread: Buying Shaolin stuff in Dengfeng; the Workings of the Doc Store

  1. #1

    Buying Shaolin stuff in Dengfeng; the Workings of the Doc Store

    Hi,

    Great website, I vistit it on a regular base to stay updated, keep up the good work.

    Lately you added the docstore to your website. I was looking on the internet for wholesale businesses that sell shaolin related stuff, you know weapons etc. The reason why is because I know what kinda prices they rate you at shaolin/dengfeng. I just want to import some stuff for myself and maybe some other friends, so I have no big plans. I came upon www.shaolin-wushu.com and the shaolin sword factory website. I think you do business with either one of them. Since you know so much about shaolin I hoped you could give some info on this topic.

    I emailed the www.shaolin-wushu.com website for some more info because their website lacks all kinds of information. For instance their price list says prices are in Yuan, but numbers are expressed in USD. I also asked them for a catalogue. Do you know If they do business with business only or also to individuals and what kind of volume would be a minimum? Seconly what can I expect of shipping costs? About the shaolin sword factory. I always wanted a real nice straight sword. I tried to email them but non of their email adresses work. Might you know anything about doing business with them. I'd have the same questions as with www.shaolin-wushu.com

    I hope you find some time to give me some info. Many thanks.

    Regards,
    xxx xxxx



    Now, where else can you find a legitimate business that will give supportive advice for their competition? LOL, only here man. Only here. Coming soon to russbo.com, an interactive support desk for Wing Lam Enterprises, MartialArtsMart.com, WalMart and more.

    Let's talk about a few issues here, because your email raises some good points. You've got a lot to learn about importing **** from China.

    First, Chinese websites.

    Chinese websites are notorious for "moving". Shaolin temple has changed it's domain so many times, I don't even bother listing them on my web site anymore. And if you think you're going to get a response from any of them, think again. In fact, from what I've been told, it's actually kind of rare to get a response from any webmaster. I seem to be one of the few morons on the net that actually bother responding to all inquiries. You can keep sending emails to this sword factory, but I seriously doubt you'll get an answer any time soon. For one, I've found over the years that few Chinese stay on top of their email communications. For two, not many of them speak English. Are you starting to get an idea of the headaches I have to deal with when it comes to ordering this stuff for the DocStore? And, just to complicate things, the Shaolin sword factory is no longer where it was. In fact, I don't think it knows where it is; the factory was destroyed in the Shaolin village destruction. They have a small facility in the Shaolin temple wushu guan now, but, they don't make the swords there. The swords that you get at the Shaolin Sword factory are not all made there. In fact, few swords are. Most are made, like everything else in the world, in China. Yes, they import them from some unknown factories somewhere in southern China. Oh, and no, I don't do business with them on a regular basis. They don't take internet orders. They don't take credit cards, even at that one facility. If I want something from them, I have to get my little feet to walk to Shaolin village, with a bunch of cash, that I had to fight for at the one rarely functioning ATM machine in Dengfeng. And then I have to hire a taxi to haul all the **** back to my storage dump in Dengfeng.

    Second, Chinese businessmen.

    Talk about vicious capitalists. And I thought Las Vegas attorneys were bad.

    Chinese businessmen have an interesting way of doing business with their customers. I always get the impression that the future is something that these guys just don't think about. The whole concept of "repeat business", "keeping the customer happy", "ensuring a healthy future sales relationship", just doesn't occur to these guys. It's more of a "what can I get out of him now", and forget about any sort of future relationships. Loyalty? Ha. Promises and agreements? Sure. Keeping one's word? Forget it. Agreements change faster than Kobe's accuser changes her panties. Or her sex partners. The typical Chinese businessman, from my experience, is more into a "get now, screw you" approach, and forget about any chance of me coming back. Which, if you look at the history of China, with all its power struggles and changing levels of authority, I guess you can't blame them. They're shrewd, they're self centered, they're vicious. If you're going to get involved with any sort of business with these guys, you have to be careful. It's better if you can start a relationship on a "face to face" level; over time, some trust will develop, and you'll be able to better deal with these people. If you're an unknown to them, with plenty of cash, you might as well drop your draws right now and bend over. Don't forget to smile.

    Third, the DocStore.

    What does doc do to get this stuff available to you? Let's go through the process.

    First, I travel to China.I usually go for a few reasons, purchasing stuff to sell on the site is not my main purpose for going. And if it were, it would be a horribly stupid reason for going. (The email you sent me is proof of that, lol). No, I go for other reasons, but, when I'm there, I go shopping. I get the gang, and we spend a few days hitting antique stores, factories, and other retail outlets, both in Beijing and in Shaolin. I have a group of Chinese people that help me. And yes, I pay them. Their time is money, just as mine is. Granted, my time used to get reimbursed at a far greater rate than what their time gets reimbursed for, but, I don't mind. I do if basically for free; I have fun doing it. (And, FYI, my time doesn't get reimbursed for anything that I do with respect to this site, the store, the school, etc. I make NO money whatsoever, but I can assure you, I do SPEND it).

    The shopping process kind of goes like this. I get one of my doc honeys, preferably a cute one, and we go shopping. But, we don't buy anything. Big white guys get big white guy prices when they shop in China. No, I find things, and point them out with various code signals to my accompanying sweet young thing. She remembers the things that she needs to remember, and then we leave. A week later, another member of the russbo shopping team goes with my doc honey back to those various stores and other places that we hit, and negotiates for the Chinese price of the things that I had pointed out. Discounting for buying large amounts of items occurs sometimes, but is rare; the Chinese have not yet learned all the great aspects of "keep the customer happy" capitalism yet. They're more interested in daily survival than they are repeat business. He buys them, and we store them in one of our storage facilities in Beijing or Dengfeng. I pay people for this service. I pay for the storage facilities too.

    Occasionally, I have some members of the russbo shopping team travel to various parts of China to search out interesting items on their own. For these items, I have to place a lot of trust in their choices. And in them. I don't get to see these things until they show up on my doorstep. I have to wire them money to their bank accounts in China, and then hope that they don't retire on it somewhere in Tibet. To this date, so far so good....

    The items are eventually accumulated and inventoried. After we accumulate a seriously large amount of ****, we then start to search out packing materials. No, you can't go to a Box Brothers or Office Depot in Dengfeng. If you need large cardboard boxes, you have to either buy them used from other shop owners, or steal them, in the middle of the night, when shop owners are sleeping under their counters. If you need bigger, more sturdier boxes, you have to build them. You find a furniture builder, and spend a few hours arguing with him about the size and strength of the boxes that you need. When you're buying six hundred pairs of sneakers, you need big boxes. Wooden boxes. Boxes that have to be built. Boxes that cost money to be built.

    You then have to scavenge around for packing material, you know, the stuff that keeps your stuff from banging around with the other stuff, to prevent them all from becoming "broken stuff". No, you can't go to the store in Dengfeng to buy styrofoam popcorn. We usually get "packing material" the old fashion way. We pick through the garbage.

    All the **** then gets "packed". In many, many boxes. That takes time, and money. Far more time than you can imagine. Getting appropriate shipping materials is a nightmare. Once it's all packed, it needs to be shipped to Tianjin, the nearest shipping port. Oh, shipping. Guess I should talk about that.

    You have two ways of getting your **** out of China. Three, if you include yourself. Let's talk about you first.

    If you want to carry things on the plane with you, that's fine. There's no extra charge. That is, until your baggage starts to weigh more than 20 kilograms. (44 pounds for you non-metric types). So, if you've got a bunch of swords that you want to bring home with you, start throwing away your clothing, shoes, toothpaste, smuggled narcotics and other personal items. For, once you start carrying more than 20 kg on a Chinese airlines, expect to pay major bucks. I carried back one hundred pounds of monk uniforms one of these past trips. The extra baggage charge, just from Beijing to Bangkok, was over $350. (And that was just to Bangkok; I had extra "overweight" charges for the rest of my journey, until I got home. Do you think I make that money back when we sell these monk uniforms?) And the headache of having extra baggage? Bringing **** with you, if you don't plan it correctly and travel exceedingly light, can be quite the expense.

    So, you decide to opt to ship it by plane back home. You go to the post office, where, by the way, everyone speaks Chinese, and they search each and every item that you want to send back home. That's how they do their export customs. At the post office. That's also how they look through your **** to see what will fit best on their kids. For, if you ship something home by yourself, by air, expect to see less than half of it show up on your doorstep a month or two later. God knows how some of these little Chinese kids are wearing my karate pants. Or what they want with all those traditional Chinese medicine textbooks I've sent back. You don't get everything that you send. And, you pay incredible prices for it. I mailed one large sword to a state senator who helped us with the visas. The monks had this special sword made, and we decided to ship it by air to avoid the Los Angeles customs nightmare. The cost of shipping, by airplane, one sword to the US from Beijing? $120. It got there, but, because of gift regulations with the US Senate, we got it back. Shipping by air takes less time, but is exceedingly expensive.

    So, we ship by ship. Not by boat. Oh, a doc tidbit. For your information, a boat is anything less than 40 meters long. A ship, as one shipping captain told me, is a boat that costs over 100 million USD. Or, is over 40 meters long. We send by ship. But to send by ship, we have to get it to Tianjin, China. By truck. You know what a truck is. But you haven't seen a truck, until youv'e seen a Chinese truck. Oh, and shipping by truck costs money. Even if it spends a week broken down by the side of the road.

    Once it gets to Tianjin, a shipping agent opens up all the boxes that we found/stole/built, and goes through the items. Hey, he has kids to clothe too. He creates a new shipping list, which, invariably, does not match all the items that we put in the boxes. Hell, he speaks Chinese too, and when it comes to US Customs, he hasn't the slightest ****ing idea as to what is going on. Then again, neither do I. Have you seen the US Customs manual lately? With each new threat of some sort of nuclear device on some ship in Los Angeles harbor, the rules change. Each time I get a docstore shipment, it's a new rule here or there. So, our shipping agent in Tianjin takes all our ****, puts it back into boxes, sometimes without the packing material, sometimes with, and throws it all into one of those big shipping containers. It then disappears into the bowels of a ship for well over a month. But, before he does that, there's extra charges. Yes. Like $200 worth. On top of his usual fees.

    For, if you are not a registered Chinese company, you can't ship out of China. And to be a registered Chinese company, you have to have proof of about $35000 in a Chinese bank account. Oh, and Chinese accountants on your Chinese registered company's payroll. And usually shrewd vicious Chinese businessmen as partners to some degree. Well, I don't do that, so, I do something else. I "rent" a registered Chinese company, for each shipment. It costs me, about $200 for each time I ship something, by ship. We "rent" a company, and our **** gets on a boat. Are you starting to figure out why we send a thousand pounds of **** each time?

    Sometimes, most of our **** ends up in a warehouse in Los Angeles. Not all of it. Most of it. And that's when the fun begins.

    We then deal with a new shipping agent in Los Angeles, who, for some reason, known only to God, speaks only Chinese. They have their own charges that we have to pay, something to do with "the paperwork". We pay their fee, and then, we are "released" to go to US Customs. Which, if you haven't figured out yet, is also in Los Angeles. Somewhere in Los Angeles. Have you been to Los Angeles lately?

    So, local members of the russbo gang get in their little pick up trucks, drive to LA, get lost in LA, scare the **** out of Rick in southcentral gang ridden LA, and eventually find their way to the US Customs office, where, they usually, for some reason again only known to God, find some understanding and overly nice US Customs agent, who, basically tells us that we've seriously ****ed up. Again. For, the shipping list that the agent in Tianjin created, which, by the way, had nothing to do with the shipping list that the russbo gang in China created, has nothing to do with the **** that's in all the boxes. All thousand pounds of it or so. So, the US Customs agent, thinking that we're in the process of shipping Chinese immigrants from Dengfeng, harasses us and threatens to impound our thousand pounds of sneakers and Buddhas, for a few days, while they search through all the boxes, looking for some little Chinese kid that I've smuggled into the country to clean my house and do my laundry. Oh, at the cost of a thousand dollars or so.

    But, a little smooth talking over a few hours, and gross pleadings of innocence and stupidity, sometimes gets us through. There's a US Customs fee that we have to pay, and, sometimes, depending upon the timing of all of this, a huge storage fee, sometimes to the tune of a few hundred dollars, for keeping all our **** in the LA warehouse. But, eventually, we get it all worked out, and everything gets loaded onto the back of Tonya's pickup, ready for the five hour journey back to Las Vegas. Five hours, if, she doesn't hit a lot of Los Angeles traffic, which takes an act of God not to be stuck in, and if, she doesn't get lost in east LA. Add the expense of gas, travel, and the big lunch that they take on the way there and back, and you can see the how the money continues to disappear.

    And this is just the beginning. For when it gets home, we have to unpack it, repair whatever got damaged, if it can be repaired, clean it up, inventory it, photograph it, assign prices to it, and get it logged into the server in the DocStore software. The banged up stuff takes places of honor in my house, as does the **** that the dogs decide to chew on. It literally takes hours to input the items into the store software. It takes more hours researching each piece, so that it is adequately and accurately described on the store. Oh, and we do internet searches on each item to ensure that we have the absolute lowest prices on the net.

    All so that you can easily browse, for a few minutes, all the items that we sell. Input some data, one click to purchase it, and a new set of maneuvers take place.

    We find the item, clean it, package it, drive it to the shipping area, and send it on it's way. That's after we've driven to Box Brothers to purchase clean shipping materials and boxes.The US russbo gang just hates picking through dumpsters. That's after our software, and our server, interacts with our credit card company, which interacts with our merchant bank accounts. Interaction, which takes place on one of my two T1 lines. All, which, if you haven't figured out, carries some significant monthly fees. To give you an idea, figure almost $100 a month for all the various merchant accounts, another $100 a month to host the main part of the site, and around $500 a month for all the internet access for my personal server, which hosts the more interactive and complicated parts of the site. My server, and associated equipment, which had cost around $7000, not including all the software I've installed in it (another few thousand dollars) and, definitely not including all the time that I spend keeping it running in good order. This is not including the upcoming $8000 or so I need to spend on video editing computer equipment and software, to better process all these videos for the site. We're also not including all the time and effort that Rick and Steve contribute, for free, to making the store and videos available to all of you.

    The costs, get to be a little out of hand after a while. I'll bet you had no idea what costs were associated with this web site, and all of it's associated features.

    So, that's what's behind the famed and infamous DocStore. Impressed?

    Now, if I read your email question correctly, you're interested in buying a sword that you've seen in Dengfeng for $20. A sword that we sell for $45. And you want my advice as to how to get it more cheaply? I'll tell you what to do. Free, and good, doc advice. Like everything else I do here.

    Get on a plane and go to Dengfeng. And bring a really old set of clothes, so you can hunt for your own shipping materials.

    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

    (more comments in my User Profile)
    russbo.com



  2. #2

    FREE!!???

    Damn, I am working for free?.. I thought it was for all the chicken and chocolate chip cookies I could eat.

  3. #3
    Oh, and what about all the prayer services? Huh? Forgot about THAT didn't you....
    Experienced Community organizer. Yeah, let's choose him to run the free world. It will be historic. What could possibly go wrong...

    "You're just a jaded cynical mother****er...." Jeffpeg

    (more comments in my User Profile)
    russbo.com



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Posts
    909
    Hey doc, I got a request for doc store items. Can you pick up some traditional chinese wine jugs/jars, the kind one would use in practicing drunken boxing? Oh and they survive shipping better if they're still full of wine. Though that might not help them better survive chinese customs agents.
    Show me a man who has forgotten words, so that I can have a word with him.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    1,768
    lol at dao... I've seen people ask for these on various forums, and I think someone found a spot to get them...

    I'll keep my ears and eyes open for you.
    practice wu de

  6. #6
    DOZO is offline Registered Member: no custom title Registered Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Posts
    18

    how does everyone else manage ?

    i guess walmart ruined it for everyone else. you'd think with all that cheap labor we could get more for a dollar- but it's the damn shipping! you guys a freakin me out man.

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