via China comes to town Sunday, 22 December 2013 by Garikai Mazara Sunday Mail
Have you been longing for years for that once-in-a-lifetime shopping trip to China?
Probably you have heard stories from friends whose feet got swollen on the streets of Beijing whilst looking
for bargains, or you might have heard of the seven-storey Yashow flea market where you literally buy anything and everything (at probably a third of the marked price), or you want to go and experience the Guangzhou shopping experience, or simply want to go there and taste the Chinese food.
Or probably your fascination is with Chinese art, architecture, tastes, culture, belief systems and people. Well, there is no need anymore to spend that arm and a leg, that lifetime savings on that once-in-a-lifetime 16-hour flight to China, for China has simply landed in town.
The Long Cheng Plaza situated in Harare’s Belvedere suburb, just adjacent the equally imposing National Sports Stadium (yet another Chinese architectural monument) recently opened its doors to the public and for all those who have been dreaming in Chinese, you can now live the dream.
But . . . with a complex built to such perfection, artistry and grandeur, there has to be a “but”.
The shopping experience is a bit on the upmarket, it might not be your everyday shopping destination. For, if you are going to be buying a set of sofas for thirteen-and-half grand, those being Benjamins, then you know you have expensive taste.
What is particularly eye-catching about the Long Cheng Plaza is the Chinese architecture, which dominates all the facades of the shopping complex, especially the entrances, one which is along Samora Machel Avenue (Bulawayo Road) and the other along Mutley Road (that is to the eastern side) and this architecture is more pronounced at the amusement park, which carries an architectural design which is wholly influenced by Sino beliefs, especially as it features the Nine Dragons.
Whilst some of the shops are still to be taken up for business, those that are open are a pointer of what the new shopping experience is to be like in Harare. And unlike the Yashow shopping experience, where prices are largely negotiated, and at times with the shopper getting the item for almost a third of the original “marked” price, the Long Cheng experience is a different affair, and the pricing structure says it all.
But for those who want things on the high end, especially quality products and brand names, it is the place to go. It is a place where you can spend, literally that is, the whole day shopping. When you get hungry there are restaurants galore, when you need to rest there is the amusement park (where the kids can play) or whilst the wife is having her nails done, dad can go to the gym.
In short, it is a one-stop shopping experience.Besides the expansive parking space, many shoppers are likely to be taken in by the hypermarket, which has been widely touted as the largest supermarket in the country, in terms of floor space, which carries a lot of Chinese products and, for good measure, has been mixed with local products.
The local goods are available at competitive prices. Just opposite the hypermarket is hardware, arguably the largest hardware in the country as well.
Whilst the hypermarket has reasonable and fair prices (that is on some goods), the hardware is likely to leave some shoppers with mouths gaping for hours on end.
Top-of-the-range would be the apt description. The bottom line is that Long Cheng shopping complex is not for the mass market, that is, it is not your Mupedzanhamo, neither are the prices negotiable. They are marked prices.
Long Cheng joins a number of shopping malls in the capital, among them Sam Levy’s Village in Borrowdale, Westgate, Eastgate, Joina City, High Glen, Chitungwiza Town Centre.
Interestingly, what has been the bane of the other malls has been high rentals, which has resulted in non-uptake of rental space. However, Long Cheng seems to have taken note of that, hence the encouraging uptake of space in the mall.
Our “shopping” experience in mid-week to get a feel of the shopping complex, on two successive days, was not that rosy as rain heavily poured down. But to those who are not travelling out of Harare this Christmas, or those who are travelling to Harare, it might be worth their while to take a visit to Long Cheng and save a massive fortune flying to China.