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Lessons From a Dumpling Stand

Tricia Wang, an ethnographer and writer, recently followed a Chinese migrant family around and helped as they set up a dumpling stand outside of a sprawling factory.

Her observations are stunning and remarkable.

The family wakes up at 4:30AM and starts making dumplings with limited tools, little water, and equipment that doesn’t work. On top of that the family’s dumpling business is hounded by local police who want to shut them down.

Making matters worse the family is only netting 100 RMB a day (around 12 bucks). They want to make five times that much, but large social obstacles get in there way and small, unexpected, costs start to add up.

While a road side dumpling stand doesn’t supply a lot of business lessons–it is an example of the hard work demanded of the 200 to 300 rural migrants in China. It’s a must read.

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Picture Credit: Kevin Dooley