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'Spiritual store' emerges in Beijing
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An empty glass bottle labeled with beatific or encouraging words, sold in "spiritual stores," has become a favorite among white-collar workers in Beijing.

The "spiritual containers" have been given light, wish-inspiring names, such as "everyday is Sunday," "Beijing's blue sky," and "away from the fine," and range in price from 15 to 35 yuan.

The owner of one such underground shop in Beijing, a man in his early twenties, told the Beijing Evening News that the empty bottles are produced in Hangzhou, and labeled in Beijing. The most coveted bottles in his shop are those with the motto "away from the keyboards", which are priced at 35 yuan.

An "away from the keyboards" bottle is sold at a "spirital store" in Beijing. (photo: Beijing Evening News)

He said his store has many regular customers, as the bottles are thought to be a form of psychotherapy. No doubt the bottles are especially popular among young female shoppers; the "sense of security" bottle is their favorite.

The bottles were favored over the holiday season, as an increasing number of people purchased them as trendy gifts for friends. On Christmas Day, dozens of the bottles were sold.

As early as May last year, a similar "spiritual supermarket" opened in Shanghai, selling "spiritual subscriptions" packed in medicine bottles, metal boxes, milk bags, and plastic buckets.

Lu Qibin, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics, said the emergence of spiritual commodities reflects the spiritual crises and psychological pressures faced by people in modern society, and as such, can be useful to temporarily ease people's worries.

Some marketing analysis experts said such products initially seem to fulfill people's psychological demands, but as the newness wears off, the products will eventually be forgotten.

(CRI January 3, 2008)

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