Imagine having such a good baked cake business that everyday you wake up at 4 a.m. to start preparing and work until 8 p.m. That has been the life of baker Li Fugui and wife for the past 8 years.
The couple’s baked cake stall in Nanjing City (the capital of Jiangsu Province, eastern China) has gained a strong following because Li refuses to raise the price of his 50 Chinese cents ($0.08) pastry.
This modest salesman’s business ethic intrigued many residents in the neighborhoods surrounding Li’s bakery stall, inspiring them to purchase his cakes to support his integrity. An elderly woman from another district in the city even bought 70 yuan ($11.50) worth of baked goods as a statement of her approval.
Li’s fame really exploded after Nanjing’s Yangtse Evening Post carried an article about Li’s “fixed price cakes.” Customers would flock to his stall and purchase 80 to 100 yuan (about $12.80 to $16) worth of baked cakes at a time.
Li Fugui’s business ethos has earned him plenty of admirers and customers. (Weibo.com)
Supplying the insatiable demand would prove to be an emotionally trying experience. Despite constantly reminding his customers that his prices won’t change so they don’t need to stock up, supply is never enough. Every day there are people who have to go home empty handed, and Li feels apologetic to this crowd.
The overwhelming orders are also physically exhausting. The native of Anhui Province’s best—or worst—day of business was when he got an order from a foreigner for 7,000 cakes so he could bring back home the local specialty.
“It took us two days to finish making the large amount of cakes,” recalled Fu Ling, Li’s wife. “We couldn’t even lift our arms after we were done.”
Li’s baked cakes are popular not just because they are affordable. They taste good, too. Netizen “Sweet Sugar and Bitter Tea” provides this glowing review on Weibo: “I’ve tried their baked cakes and they were amazing! There is always a crowd waiting for his delicious cakes; each batch is sold within five minutes. Many customers had dibs on the cakes still in the pans. Even talking about this makes me hungry.”
Ultimately, Li feels that the fixed price of his baked cakes only partially explains his success. He believes that long-lasting businesses also demand of the businessman quality products and affable service — attributes he undoubtedly possess.
Additional reporting by Larry Ong