Krispy Kreme opened their first branch in Thailand in the end of September 2010 in Siam Paragon mall, Bangkok. The label-conscious Bangkokians went nuts over these sugar-with-a-touch-of-dough snacks. Lines reported 3 hour waits. The shop tried to speed up lines by limiting purchases to two boxes per individual.
So unfortunately timed was my promotion, as it is tradition to treat the office to breakfast in such a lucky event. And the chant and thumping for Krispy Kreme from the office was so loud our doors rattled. Unlike the true American thinking, this chain doesn’t open its doors until 10am. I proposed I buy the real KK box, and stuff it with Mister Donuts to save my time. Alas, the idea didn’t fly. So five of us promotees girdled our loins (and *I* armed myself with hot coffee, in a Dunkin’ Donuts tumbler) and lined up for donuts. Including commute time, the errand took us 3.5 hours. Between us, 10 boxes ended up being overkill. I proposed we take the remaining donuts and resell them to people waiting in the line for 50% markup.
More interesting than the donuts (to me- my colleagues may not agree) was watching the Thais in line. Thai people do not like to queue. Any attempt starts OK with three people then leads to a collective chaotic mass of “me first, me first.” Worse than the inability to queue up is the lack of honor system for respecting those who have waited patiently for their turn. I lost count of how often I would be in a long line leading up to the cashier and someone would just step in front of me when I’m just one person away from paying. Yet, for KK, the masses *did* queue up. On top of that, the shop had someone enforcing the integrity of the line.
Thais have a very class-based society. Many better-off consider it either below them or a waste of their time to stand in line. So they hire people. Sure enough, in front of us was a moto taxi driver. As we got close to the counter, he made a call and a smartly-dressed woman materialized to swap out with him. The line enforcer saw the swap and actually came over to ask what the story was. Had she cut the line, he was prepared to eject her. How cool is that?!?
The past months, a black market has emerged. Thailand, and most of Southeast Asia, is (in)famous for their black market products. Fake Prado and VV bags, Guci sunglasses, holex watches, and DVD pirates. Personally, I disdain the industry.
I still found is just as hilarious to see kerbside gangsters resell Krispy donuts right across from the real store at a jacked up price. They were sending people to stand in line all day, buying boxes again and again, then reselling to people who don’t want to wait. Isn’t that my idea with our leftovers? And if people are paying others to stand in line for them, the cost charged by the unauthorized resellers probably come up to be the same, no?
Finally, the scariest image I have of that morning in line. A pudgy Thai kid, about 8 years old, if not yet obese, on his way. One hand, he clutches a half-finished soft serve ice cream, the other a half-eaten glazed Krispy Kreme donut. Both crumbs and melted vanilla cream all over his mouth and chin. He was working his way through both at the same time. At 10:30 in the morning.