When you realize it’s recession


Eslite bookstore, Taiwan's finest example of creating an artistic windowshopping area by combining bookstore, boutique, and coffee shop, started serving a brunch set (above). This is a remarkable departure from their previous offering, in terms of price and quality:

  • Before: a pot of tea with a fancy name (one of the breeds, presumably): NT$180 (US $5.5)
  • After: fresh milk, bagel with jam and butter, two pieces of over-sized (according to Taiwanese standard) bacon, pickles, omelet with three eggs (over-sized…): NT$160 (US$5)

I lied — that's not real. Actually, the brunch set also comes with a hot coffee or tea, freely refilled.

It was one of the Eureka moments for me. At the same time, I was slightly depressed by seeing a top-notch brand offering too-good-to-be-true (according to their standard) service to keep the customers. (The depression was swiftly cured by the bacon.) If they had to reach out this much, what do we, the mortals, need to do to keep our lifeline?

I am not willing to go back to the money-stealer-180-pot era (which will come back with a vengeance, pretty soon), but it is also true that the longer we stick to the attention-grabbing deal and not giving any look at the other, less impressive offerings, we cooperate in elongating this recession.

I know, this trend is not even worth mentioning because it is happening everywhere. A similar but different phenomenon called Web2.0 is already filled in the 'tired' category now that we have made Google, Amazon, Starbucks rich and killed thousands of mom-and-pop stores/offices. But it is time like this, when we really feel the difference with our whole body, that makes us realize the big trend, though intangible, is real.