Shanghai Daily predicts an “early summer” for Shanghai, with temperatures hitting 30 degrees Celsius today. The Shanghaiist Weather Center, however, says today’s high will only reach 27 (our current temperature) and that temperatures will remain in the 20s throughout the week, maxing out at 29 on Wednesday. Not that 29 is exactly chilly — for all you Americans out there, that means 84 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why are we talking about the weather? Well, while shopping for patio furniture and a grill over the weekend at B&Q (per Wang Jian Shuo’s suggestion), we noticed that it was a bit hot inside the home improvement store (similar to a Home Depot or Lowe’s). We asked a worker if the air conditioning was broken. They said, “No.” Hmmmm. OK. Later, we asked another employee, who agreed it was uncomfortable inside the store. What’s wrong with the air conditioning? “It’s not turned on,” was his answer. “We don’t turn it on until the outside temperature reaches 30.” Wow. (That is 86 degrees for you Americans.)
Those of us who used to write for a trade magazine called Home Improvement Market (it was one of our first jobs out of college) call stores the size of B&Q “big boxes.” And it doesn’t have to get too hot outside for them to turn into big ovens. We wonder if they fight over who gets to work in the fan department. We’re not sure if this is a chain-wide policy — we went to the Baoshan location — and we doubt this is a scenario unique to B&Q (百安居). In fact, Shanghai blogger John Biesnecker had a similar hot and humid shopping experience at Shanghai’s Best Buy (that’s not the only thing that has John dissing the American retailer … read his post).
Anyway, given their less-than-perfect working environment, we have always found B&Q employees to be very friendly and helpful (not to mention plentiful), and if you are looking for patio furniture and a grill, they have both. Let us suggest, however, that you look elsewhere for your charcoal. The Chinese stuff we bought just didn’t want to light, even after being doused with nearly an entire can of lighter fluid. Spend the extra money (it’s actually not that much more if you do the math) and get Kingsford charcoal from City Shop. Your life, and your burgers, will be much better. (That said, if anyone knows of an easy-to-light local charcoal that is good for grilling and cheap, please let us know.)