In sort-of praise of Prizemart

People have been chatting about Prizemart – an independent chain of stores in Hong Kong. The website doesn’t tell you much about what to expect. The emphasis on food safety suggests some sort of trendy organic health-fad scene. The list of branches suggests something on a more industrial scale. And what do they sell, other than olive oil, milk and pistachio?

So along I go to Li Yuen Street West, one of the little alleyways full of stalls selling ultra-cheap touristy tat like kids’ kimonos and plastic watches. And there the store is: I must have passed it dozens of times, yet it had never registered, despite having an open front and the distinctive logo above it.

It is just one standard shop unit – in other words, not much bigger than an average 7-Eleven. And for a claustrophobe of dazzling financial means like me, this is where the attraction wanes. Imagine the most packed-with-items, narrowest-aisled Watson’s; now double the density of piled-up, and piled-down, merchandise, and let a dozen Filipino ladies on a leisurely shopping spree occupy the remaining floor space. It is physically possible to make a circuit round the two-aisle store (no doubling-back possible) in maybe 8 minutes, but you need to be patient. A girl stands on a chair by the front to make sure you don’t start stealing things out of impatient boredom.

But if you want bargains, you’ll find them – or at least an eclectic range of them. Some pretty decent-looking olive oil, a wide range of chocolate (like Ritter Sport), noodles galore, nuts and other items, at 50% or less of what they would cost in the normal supermarkets, in my sketchy experience.

I am advised a Wanchai branch is more user-friendly. It is almost worth any discomfort to take a swipe at the local duopoly. And for anyone on a tight budget, you’d be crazy not to look at Prizemart.

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10 Responses to In sort-of praise of Prizemart

  1. Tiu Fu Fong says:

    I’ve got a not-as-small (2-3x average 7-11) supermarket down the road from me. Most of the range is an eclectic mix of Philippines, Indonesian and Malay goods, often featuring products that clearly must be popular given the range offered and quality of packaging, but I have no idea what they are for.

    I do miss the Thai mini-supermarket that closed down a year ago. That was a great source of curry pastes, spices and fresh herbs.

  2. fumier says:

    Their olive oil is indeed cheap, but it is the kind produced by using industrial acids to force out the last drops of oil from the stones.

  3. Comrade Lugosi says:

    I do. We would all be on a tight budget very soon if we were ripped off to the extent that Hong Kong wants us to be.

    The coffee at PrizeMart is great. Used to come in plastic tubs, now comes in kilo packets. A third or less the price of our duopolies’ piddling packets.

    Forward with the people.

    Agitate, educate, demonstrate.

  4. Headache says:

    I’ve shopped there. The selection is quite random and the bargains are such for a reason – apparently excess production or looming use-by dates. I took a playful punt on their red wine and would not recommend others do the same.

  5. Sen says:

    For more fun and games head on down to Star House TST, to the Jusco $10 store-trying to find it for me is half the fun, trying to pay and get out is the other half. I once managed to get a banana shaped, banana coloured, banana holder with room for two healthy bananas for said $10.

  6. Henry says:

    Better get there quick then, the local duopoly will have them closed down before you know it.

  7. Stephen says:

    @Henry,

    I fear it may already be too late and The Landlord has been called and the rent is going to be astronomical come renewal. It will be Carrefour all over again in the ‘World’s freeist Economy’.

  8. Dark Knight says:

    this just in …………….
    PRESS Release
    The chief executive’s office today revealed that Donald Tsang has hired at public expense a Bentley Mulsanne and a Ferrari for him and his wife during his last month (if ICAC do not get him before then) as failed Chief Executive abuser of Hong Kong. Depending on what happens before the end of the month he may also make a stopover in Tokyo (on the advice of Warwick Reid) which has no extradition treaty with Hong Kong.

    In addition Tsang intends to travel on overseas commitments from 3rd June to 29th June 2012 in order to visit places (free of charge first class and stay in Presidential suites beyond the budget of minor leaders like Barack Obama) which he has not yet visited during his 40 year paper pushing brown nosing career.

    His (more highly qualified office manager) ex-Professor Gabriel Leung said that Tsang intended to travel to see the same distillery as visited by Edward Yau in Scotland on his recent freebie Greentech jaunt to Europe as this was the most outstanding aspect of that pointless money wasting trip. He also intends to establish trade relations on behalf of his future tycoon employers with overseas locations he has not visited to date.

    His itinerary after Scotland includes his newly purchased vineyard investments in France, Portugal , Spain, Germany, Liechtenstein for unannounced reasons, the Barossa Valley and Margaret River, the Napa Valley and Chile. Thereafter he will visit Zimbabwe to meet with their leader whom he allowed to purchase a $40 million house investment in Hong Kong and a Thai runaway fugitive who likewise was allowed to purchase major property here along with other black money sources from China.

    Tsang said he had lied/ apologised enough to the peasants of ShamShui Po about his lifestyle at the expense of the public purse and would not resign since that would be a real loss of what face he has left.
    He was sure that the eunuchs of the Functional Constituencies paid for by his tycoon friends would help prevent an impeachment vote in Legco.

    END
    NNNN

  9. Headache says:

    @ Dark Knight – after reading the True Confessions of Donald’s former private chef in the latest HK mag, your post is disturbingly believable.

  10. Dark Knight says:

    Crystal Ball just announced –
    Not the SCMP
    June 30th 2012
    ICAC arrests Donald Tsang for Malfeasance in Public Office at 0400 hrs
    Tsang was believed to be planning an overseas trip of no return to Japan (no extradition treaty) where he would set up a bow tie factory and manipulate local property prices.
    Tsang was released on bail of HK$ 60 million paid for by a local tycoon in cash which was delivered by Rafael Hui who consoled the dissolute runt.
    He is expected to be charged by ICAC before his 90th birthday

    July 1st 2012
    ICAC arrests Henry Tang for Malfeasance in Public Office and defrauding the Rating and Valuation Department
    – architect and interior decoration company directors held – a blind deaf and dumb Buildings Department officer has absconded from Hong Kong and an Interpol red notice issued
    Tang is believed to have invited the ICAC officers to sample a good red and have a swim before they left for ICAC HQ
    Tang asked ICAC’s arresting party if they could arrest his wife instead since it was all her fault and they should trust him since he never lies.
    He was released on bail of HK$ 30 million that he paid in cash from his wallet and unexpired textile quota tickets which made his father’s fortune.
    He is expected to be charged by ICAC before his 75th birthday.
    His tearful wife trying for another Oscar, is quoted as saying it was all her fault no matter what they were investigating and her husband was too daft to know what he was doing anyway.

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