Purchasing agents and the Lady M sensation



When you know people in other country are buying things you are, but they get them in a much cheaper price – or when you want something that is only sold in particular countries – you start to think of a way to get those products. That’s where the purchasing agent comes in.

A purchasing agent is the person who buys things for you outside of your region. A lot of Chinese international students and immigrants work as purchasing agent. Usually they buy things from countries such as Canada, the U.S., Australia and some European countries. They send those products back to China, where people can’t get those products or can’t get them at a reasonable price.

Most purchasing agents in the U.S. and France buy luxury goods for their clients. Because the luxury tax in China is high, people buying luxuries from a purchasing agent pay much less than buying them locally, even with shipping fees. For a long time, purchasing agents only did their business from overseas to China. However, as the oversea Chinese market started to grow, purchasing agents started to do their business locally.

In Vancouver, the most popular item in the Chinese community is cake from Lady M, a dessert store in U.S. It’s famous for its signature Mille Crepe and Green Tea Mille Crepe. Lady M only has stores in New York and Los Angeles. Chinese internet celebrities in the States made the desserts famous in Chinese community. Lady M started to ship desserts within the U.S. recently: Americans can order online and Lady M sends them out. Purchasing agents in Vancouver seized the chance.

Peggy Ba, a purchasing agent in Vancouver doing Lady M business, says: “You have no idea how much people want to taste the cake. All we need to do is find a storage in U.S. and have the Lady M send their cake to the address. Then we cross border to pick up the cake.”

It’s a big business. The price of a nine-inch Green Tea Mille Crepe, plus shipping, on the Lady M website, is $165 US, insanely expensive for a cake. The price that Vancouver purchasing agents charge is $200 for a whole cake or $55 for a quarter of one.

“I have to go to the U.S. at least two times a week, with 10 cakes every time, and I still can’t get enough to sell,” says Ba.

The demand for Lady M cake may pass in few months, but there will always be another Lady M for purchasing agents to sell.

1 Comment

  • Avatar
    Reply December 7, 2014

    Marissa Birnie

    I know people that use shopping agents to purchase clothing from Japan and Korea, but I had no idea there was a booming business for ridiculously expensive cakes. For that price, it had better be the best thing I ever tasted. Great piece, Nikki.

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