BRUNEI: MANY shops in Brunei are still finding more lucrative business in selling imitation products compared to selling original goods, as shop operators said that the public would often choose to purchase something that is cheap rather than pay more for quality.
In one of the busier commercial areas of the Sultanate, a large array of imitation well known toys, computer brands, clothing apparel and sporting goods are available for sale.
A particular car accessories shop was found to have stocks of imitation Ambi Pur perfume refills which were sold at a significant lower price than the original.
A salesperson, who opted for anonymity, said that the refills are quite popular among their customers even when they have been told that these were fake and of lower quality.
"We sell both the original and fake refills. We will always tell them that the fake ones do not last as long and do not smell as good, but they don't really care. They will still buy a lot of these in bulk," she said.
The same case was observed at a computer accessories store located in the same area. Shop manager, Dina (not her real name), said that the shop sells a wide range of imitation goods, ranging from pen drives and memory sticks to keyboards, mice and software.
"We started off by selling original stuff, but they were not popular. We then brought in some cheap but fashionable and trendy mice and mousepads and they went off the shelves very quickly, at that point we decided to bring in more of these cheaper imitation goods," she said.
She also showed a number of imitation pendrives branded with names such as Kingston, Sony and Razer.
"These brandnames are just decoration. The pendrives are from China and they work as well as the original ones but cost a lot less. So many people will still prefer to buy these most of the time," she said.
Pricing was also the reason which persuaded Dave, a Form five basketball enthusiast, to buy two pairs of imitation basketball shoes from a local sporting goods store earlier this year.
"The shoes were very cheap and I was on a budget. I could choose to buy two pairs of imitation ones or only a pair of something original," said the student who is currently waiting for his Form Five school examination results, adding that both shoes he bought were replicas of well known Adidas sneakers worn by players from the National Basketball Association (NBA).
He said that the shopkeepers had told him that the shoe was fake but he did not really care because the shoes looked exactly like the original.
"I loved them because no one could tell the difference, they were really comfortable as well," said Dave.
The only problem with the shoes, however was that he had sprained his ankle twice while playing basketball.
"I don't know if I can put all the blame on the shoes, but I have since sold one pair and kept the other only for casual wear," he said.
The salesperson at the outlet at which Dave had bought his shoes said that it was a well known fact that there are many imitation sports equipment, capable of posing as the real thing, circulating in Brunei's market.
"They look and feel the same. The only thing is that maybe the original ones are better built with better materials and have more padding for comfort," said the salesperson who declined to be named for job security reasons.
Kristal, a secretary for a trading company, said that imitation handbags, wallets and belts are widely available at "almost all" clothing shops in Brunei.
"These imitations are very hard to differentiate for people like you and me...the only reason we know they are fake is because of their cheap price tags," she said.
She said that she would avoid buying such products no matter how cheap or how similar they are to the original.
"We have to respect the brands and their manufacturers," she added.