11 February 2022

Traders punished for selling Olympics mascot at 10 times the retail price

11 February 2022

Police are punishing Chinese traders selling scarce dolls of the Olympics mascot – a panda in a clear plastic suit called Bing Dwen Dwen – for up to 10 times the retail price.

Buyers queued overnight to empty shop shelves after the Winter Games started in Beijing on February 4, with factory workers recalled from their Lunar New Year holiday to make more mascots, according to news reports.

It started to be sold a long time ago but didn’t generate a buzz. Now the media are promoting it

Three people in Beijing were sentenced to unspecified “administrative penalties” for reselling souvenirs at prices deemed too high, police said.

Punishment can include detention, fines, and confiscation of goods.

Plush toys of Bing Dwen Dwen sold for 192 yuan (£22) at the Gongmei Emporium in central Beijing.

The shop in the Wangfujing shopping district and other authorised outlets also sell Olympics-themed pens, badges and other souvenirs.

Customers standing in line included traders who bought for clients or to resell at higher prices.

Workers at a factory manufacture Bing Dwen Dwen stuffed dolls (Chinatopix via AP) (AP)

“It started to be sold a long time ago but didn’t generate a buzz,” said a customer at Gongmei who would give only her surname, Zhu.

“Now the media are promoting it.”

Gongmei and other shops posted signs saying they had as a few as 300 Bing Dwen Dwen dolls per day and buyers were allowed one each.

Shoppers said they sold out in as little as 30 minutes.

“The second-hand market is hot,” said the newspaper Beijing News.

Bing Dwen Dwen, the mascot of the Beijing 2022, turns sideways to exit through the doors after visiting the Xinhua news agency’s office at the 2022 Winter Olympics (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong) (AP)

“Bing Dwen Dwen has surged to 10 times the original price.”

One afternoon, employees walked along a line of customers asking them not to stay overnight, when temperatures fall below freezing.

Reporters saw a trader taken away by police on Wangfujing after a teenager complained he was reselling an Olympic keychain for 20 yuan (£2.30) above retail price.

Merchants online offer unauthorised Olympics-themed keychains, mobile phone cases and other goods with Bing Dwen Dwen’s image.

Authorities have tried to calm frenzied buying by promising there will be adequate supplies and Olympics souvenirs will be on sale until June.

Residents wearing face masks to help protect from the coronavirus take a selfie with the Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen decoration in Beijing (AP Photo/Andy Wong) (AP)

Some customers said they paid deposits for souvenirs but traders disappeared with their money, according to news reports.

“Please consume rationally and do not buy at high prices from scalpers,” the Beijing police department said on its social media account.

One of three companies identified by the press as being licensed to make Bing Dwen Dwen dolls, Beijing Yuanlong Yatu Culture Communication, referred questions to the Beijing Olympic Organising Committee.

Phone calls to the other two producers weren’t answered.

The organising committee didn’t respond to questions about how many dolls it planned to sell and whether any would be exported.

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