This post is in regards to the Ningxia, China buying mission that I co-operated with the Shanghai Mart and the government of Ningxia.

The government of Ningxia wanted more of a foreign presence at the tradeshows, opening ceremonies and business match making.  I was asked to bring professional fashion industry buyers (non-Chinese) to Ningxia to attend the tradeshow, the government of Ningxia paid the airfares, hotel (5 star), breakfast, lunch and dinners.   The date of travel was from September 2nd – September 6th, 2010.

The first day we were supposed to depart at 1:00pm but once on the plane, the plane was delayed for an hour, which turned into another hour, then they served us our snack and continued to give us drinks (cola, juice and water) to pass the time.  Well after four hours of delays sitting on the plane we finally departed on our three-hour journey to Ningxia.  I was later advised the plane was delayed due to the military protecting their aerospace due to conflicts between North Korea and the USA.

Upon arrival into Ningxia a majority of us choose to continue with our original plan and attend the opening ceremony play, we arrived to the play around 9pm and watched the performance til 10:30pm.  It was an amazing, mystical and enchanting love story, see below photos:

The power struggle and the art of Love and War

The ladies stirring up the flower pedals

The Love Story (Blood, Sweat, and Tears)

The battle – Falling soldiers

The final passage to heaven (Innocence)

The End (forever happiness)

After the play we returned to the hotel for a great late night (11pm) dinner then we all retired to our individual rooms.  Find below a picture of the grand lobby of the hotel:

The Grand Entrance

The next day we were up early for breakfast and a bus trip to the opening ceremony of:

–          The 2nd West China (Yinchuan) Clothing & Accessories Arts Fair

–          The 3rd China Ningxia International Cashmere Expo

Upon our arrival to the fair by bus there were lots of by standers who were curious to the event that stood outside the entry and watched behind the fence.  Below is a photo of some of the observers:

Curious Bystanders

We then lined up one by one to file through the security that beeped at everyone who went through.  See below photo:

The only entrance into the fair grounds

The other side 🙂

The opening ceremony was a delight to see, lots of speeches (English translation) and a big bang to celebrate the opening of the fair.  See below photos from the opening ceremony:

The entrance of the delegates (government officials and guests)

The marching band for the guests, delegates, and opening ceremonies

Yinchuan Opening Ceremony

The big bang (fireworks) the delegates and audience steps away

During the speech I decided it would be a great time to capture the audience, find below a few pictures from the observers (audience):

Young ladies watching the opening ceremonies

More young ladies smiling for their photo

The BOSS… this guy looks famous, so I had to take his picture

Young ladies with matching tops posing for their photo

To top it off I noticed a few very stylish people in the crowd, see below fashions of the hipsters of Ningxia:

Big hair and tight acid wash jeans – Rock and Roll will never die

Big hair and candy cane stripe

After about 45 minutes of speeches it was time for the finally and celebration of the opening, see below photos from the big bang:

Let the show begin

Inside the show the energy was roaring, there was a drummer on the stage and then a fashion show, see below photo of the drummer:

Keeping the energy alive

This is where the show ended… unfortunately they forgot about the contents of the show.  It appeared as it was:

–          A retail show with brands selling products for immediate sale (clearance inventory)

–          Wholesale brands showing products and quoting retail prices ($150 USD for a cashmere scarf) and 16,000 – 24,000 RMB ($2359 – $3539 USD) for a tailored suit.

–          OEM suppliers but they were limited and hard to locate

I requested business cards, but many exhibitors did not have any.  As well I requested volume pricing which lead to delays, phone calls and another person showing up who finally quoted the same price as the retail offered price.   Conclusion they had nothing to offer. See below photos from the trade fair:

The aisle, corner stand selling accessories (retail)

Aisle, corner stand selling coats, the next stand selling pants, the one beside that selling jewelry (All retail)

Aisle – selling coats and personal steamers (the crowd)

In the afternoon we were ushered to an area near the stage for a mandatory introductory session where we would be introduced to potential suppliers.  This event was called the B-Match event or otherwise by the photo known as the Overseas Buying Trip Party in Ningxia, see below photo of the stage and seating:

B Match Stage

The participants at B Match

Unfortunately only a few suppliers showed up for the introductory B Match session, a few contacts were made and the rest inter-mingled and found out more about each other businesses.

After all this excitement I decided it was time to go to the bathroom and after an opening like that I was shocked to see the bathrooms, it looked like a completely different world.   The stench, the artificial turf on the floors, and the cleanliness made it look like a run down 2 or 3 star hotel.  I decided only too show you one of the few pictures I took as you really don’t need to see it.

The bathroom – This picture does not do it justice… it is worse

In the end the trade fair looked like a miss mash of exhibitors who did OEM (few), Wholesale (brands) and companies looking to clear inventory (selling retail).  There was no organization; even large brands did not have business cards.  I was really baffled by the whole trade fair experience as everybody was grouped together into three halls.  The organizers and government have great intent, they put on a fabulous opening ceremony, b match, but forget about the guts of the show which is why everyone comes to the fair.  In conclusion I hope the organizers of the show put as much effort in the guts as the facade.

If you would like to see more photos from the trip you can check out my Picasa web albums page:  If you have any comments to share please leave below.  If you are involved in the show please ask for HELP.

Happy sourcing from Northwest China…