View single post by Preston Studios - John
 Posted: Sun Apr 14th, 2019 09:13 pm
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Preston Studios - John

 

Joined: Mon Dec 11th, 2006
Location: Melbourne, Florida USA
Posts: 18
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I had the great good fortune to travel to China in 2011 (http://www.chinaspree.com) - 4 days in Beijing, 4 days in Shanghai.  Part of my desire to go to Shanghai was to meet with my China Tiffany rep - "Elaine."  One of the strangest meetings I have ever had in my life.  Up to this point I had been depositing a check in an account in Washington state and the lamp base ordered would arrive on my doorstep.  Lovely products, very VERY reasonable prices, and an easy process.  I thought I was to meet and be shown a selection of bases to buy.  Not what it was about at all, as I was to find out....
My partner Jerry Preston and his cousin took off for yet another tour and I went down (our hotel in Shanghai was the fancy one with the revolving restaurant on top) to the main floor restaurant and met "Elaine" who had arrived with her "brother-in-law."  Very officious looking gentleman who didn't speak any English to me (but clearly understood it - he looked at me sharply several times as I conversed with Elaine).  We proceeded to start with tea and crumpets in a rather private raised platform with comfortable couches and a coffee-table portion of the elegant restaurant (then moved to another area and table for lunch). The third time he got up to answer his cell phone I realized "Elaine" was going off-script and just chatting with me.  How she got into the business, the weather, miscellaneous subjects.  The last time he did this I commented about the remarkable low prices she offered and her reply was "....well, we sell these to you for less than it costs us to make them..." (off-hand, as if everyone knew this).  I was about to ask "How?" when he came back.  The very last question she asked me as we finished lunch and the gentleman was taking care of the check was "Would you consider yourself more of a businessman or an artist?"  My reply was "Well, both since I have been doing this for over 35 years, but actually I am an artist."  I thought the woman was about to cry.  Obviously this was not the answer she expected from me.  We proceeded back to the lobby and I thanked them (pretending not notice anything unusual) for the lovely lunch. 

When we started our meeting this was the late breakfast crowd and quite a few tables were occupied.  When we got up from lunch this large restaurant which could hold well over 100 people was completely empty accept for us, and we had over a dozen people waiting on us hand and foot.  I went back up to my room after saying goodby and came back down about 20 minutes later to ask the folks in the lobby when the tour would return with my partner - the restaurant was FULL once again....!!!!
Who was "Elaine" with?  Must have been an important person.
And shortly thereafter my ability to order lamp bases directly from China Tiffany came to an end.  I was handed off to a fellow in California, was able to get 2 more and then - nothing.  Evidently they were seeking somebody to import THEIR products....
And now it has become clear what they were up to.  Some 8 years later you can go to overstock.com and see what dumping into the American market actually looks like, page after page after page after page (and their ambition is likely to replace us all - the entire American stained glass industry):  

https://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Tiffany-Style-Lighting/894/subcat.html?page=1

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