Shoppers rush to buy eco-friendly bags

Saturday, July 7, 2007
The China Post staff

It’s just a bag... or is it?

The 750 limited-edition, cotton-weave shopping totes released in five outlets yesterday has raised a ruckus among Taiwan consumers, reported the local media.

The bag is the brainchild of British designer Anya Hindmarch, best known for her leather handbags, and UK activist organization “We are what we do.”

Geared to be eco-friendly, the tote is lettered with “I am not a plastic bag,” retailed at a rock-bottom price for accessibility and globally shipped by sea, with freight offset by the purchase of carbon credits. At Taipei’s Breeze Center, a riot erupted and sent eight to the hospital. Some 1,000 consumers, who had queued outside for hours to snap up one of the 100 available bags, broke ranks as the outlet opened for business.

The ensuing race to the counter led to injuries, sobbing, and an assortment of clothing accessories being scattered throughout the area.

Said Wang Yu-wen, an executive with the Breeze Center, the option of allowing consumers to approach the counter and form their own lines was based on the designer brand’s own customer service model.

The Breeze Center regrets the decision, however, and along with providing reparations to the eight injured individuals, will also avoid this system of sales in similar circumstances in the future, said Wang.

Tainan’s Shinkong Mitsukoshi witnessed a similarly volatile showdown, this time directed full force at the sales counter when the bag’s release was cancelled at the last minute due to the overwhelming throng.

Nevertheless, a crowd nearly 500-strong was waiting at the doors for opening time, half of whom rushed to the counter with heated inquiries, disrupting regular business.

The bag’s release has been rescheduled for July 16, with 250 bags available, said a representative of the Tainan store. Queue cards will be distributed starting 10:30 pm.

The shopping totes, popularized by celebrities Lily Allen and Keira Knightley, have help to adjust the plastic bag usage and policies of many a grocery store.

Sold yesterday at NT$500, the tote has ratcheted up online bids of up to NT$10,000, according to the Central News Agency.

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