Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, January 27, 2011



OH MY GOD!! All of us here at the DUNER BLOG are all a-flutter about 2011's most exciting event: THE ROYAL WEDDING!! The 29th of April 29th is circled on our calendar with big stars and large red arrows!! C'mon, now: Fans of royal weddings (like me!) haven't had much to celebrate in the last couple decades. Since the LADY DI & PRINCE CHARLES wedding back in 1981, and ANDREW & FERGIE in 1992, it's been rough. We've been forced to endure wedding s with lesser nobles tying the knot in simple ceremonies (stupid bad economy). And things haven't been that great outside of the House of Windsor either! In Monaco, all three of Princess Grace Kelly's kids continue to annoy. The Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish royals are all boring. And don't get me started with that dull Emperor Akihito in Japan! So...I guess what I'm trying to say is...In the next NINETY TWO DAYS, be prepared for a "Wills-Loves-Kate-Blog-Fest." Whoo-hoo!

Part One stats today. Our topic: Wedding Souvenirs. Now, if you were to walk down a major boulevard in London or Glasgow today, you would be astounded by some of the great items available for purchase to commemorate this most glorious occasion. The most popular item is, naturally, china. The windows of Old Durham Road are showcasing a dozen different plates, serving trays, teapots, tea cups with matching saucers...all adorned with adorable pictures of Wills and Kate. Meanwhile, the Crest of London has all of these, plus limited-edition pill-boxes, wedding tankards, champagne flutes, commemorative magnets and a "Teabag Tidy" (whatever the hell that is, I don't know!) Of course you can also buy posters, bumper stickers, flags and buntings...even life-size-wax-replicas of the royal couple.

However, not all folks are happy about the avalanche of kitch surrounding late April's festivities. The BBC, Sky-News and the Daily Mail have all recently published articles decrying the (obvious) source of the souvies. You guessed it: Almost all the china is made in China. Let's go some eight thousand miles east of Buckingham Palace to Yiwu, a suburb of the industrial megalopolis Shenzen. Located there is a factory that is completely dedicated to manufacturing many of these treasures. It is operated by FU XUXIAN, an incredibly successful entrepreneur. These days, he is particularly proud of one item: A stunning replica of the famous wedding ring. With a minor in geo-science, FU studied photos of the original 18-carat Ceylon sapphire surrounded by South African diamonds. He worked around the clock to produce a plastic substitute for the stones and then casted them in a bronze-based setting. They will retail for about $2.99...a price no one in Europe can beat!

Which is precisely what the British Media is fuming about. Why is it that China always rakes it in when someone else has a major event? The Daily Mail bemoans the fact that these same factories will soon be producing the same items for the LONDON 2012 OLYMPIC games next year. Last year, it was savvy Chinese businessmen who scored big by investing in VUVUZELAS (see earlier blog) for the South African World Cup. Even Queen Elizabeth II is getting angry. The palace is considering a lawsuit against a Chinese manufacturer who claims to have "special royal permission" to mass produce commemorative Royal Wedding coffee mugs. When will the madness end?

While Duner will undoubtedly purchase several of the before-mentioned items, he is concerned about the financial message we repeatedly send when we send our hard-earned dollars to Shenzen for mass-produced, tacky items like commemorative Royal Wedding coasters. Even PRESIDENT OBAMA noted this trend during his STATE OF THE UNION address on Tuesday. He warned we were experiencing another "Sputnik Moment," when another nation races past the USA on a technological or financial field. But...if you don't believe me or the president...just ask FU XUXIAN, who is making crazy money right now, unable to keep up with the high demand for Royal Wedding commeratives. Fu says: "As a businessperson, you have to look for opportunities. Then you have to run faster than the competition." Run, Fu, Run.

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