CHOICES are the hallmark of a free world. In a war scenario, there are hardly any choices. If you can find rice, or even potatoes, that would be like a gift from heaven. Choices, therefore, are a good thing.
As shoppers, choices are what makes a shopping experience satisfying. Let’s take a pretend flight to Bangkok and be a shopper for a day or two. You would find that “more and better” seems to color the entire shopping experience. It is hard to find anything bad to say about Bangkok except the crowds, the noise, the traffic. The general tenor of all the big department stores in the likes of Paragon, Central, Emquartier is its bigness and its myriad of choices.
This makes the shopping in Bangkok more mind-blowing, more shiok—as the Singaporeans would say. Not only are there more levels of shopping, each level on its own offer much much more. Take the patisserie section on the Food Hall, for instance, typically located in the basement. There is a gobsmacking array of anything and everything. You want a Hokkaido cheese tart, they have it. Singapore-styled kaya toast, they have it too. Not to mention the endless choices of Thai desserts from every conceivable province from north to south, east to west.
Could choices ever be a bad thing in a shopping mall? This is one of the great things about choices. It invigorates competition, it pushes suppliers of products and services to greater heights.
Why would you visit Nylon Coffee Roasters, for example, if you’re after a cup of coffee, instead of a TCC or a Starbucks or Coffee Club? And to think that Nylon is so out of the way at Outram Park. That’s because the folks at Nylon are true coffee connoisseurs who not only roast their own beans, they know the science of brewing a great cup of coffee. Best of all, their coffee costs less than a mediocre Starbucks grande.
It is for the same reason that I personally gravitate towards Candy Empire rather than Candilicious. Both bear the magic word “candy” in their names, but they are far from equal. Candy Empire carries more chocolate numbers—including my all-time favorites Reese Peanut Butter Chocolate and Milky Way—than at Candilicious, which appear to be just a purveyor of gummy-styled candies. So yes, choices are a great thing, especially when it comes to candy stores. That includes so many other things, from electronics and sports gear to cosmetics and jeans.
Unless you’re a brand-name snob, jeans from Uniqlo are the best value for money. They are well-made, hardy, comfortable, and smart. It’s the choice of the masses, plebeians like me. But that’s the beauty of choices. It is a manifestation of a free world where individuals don’t have to settle for rations of rice or potatoes, but are blessed with the right to say, “To each his own.”
Jiji Setavoraphan, Secondary Three
For more essays by Jiji, visit Jiji Writes.
This essay was written in response to the ‘O’ Levels 2015 exam, Question #3:
Shoppers have too much choice, from chocolate bars to jeans. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having many things to choose from?
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