Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Friday, 19 December 2008

The BBC box hits the Big Apple

By Greg Wood
North America business correspondent, BBC News

Big Lots
The Box has shipped goods from China to Long Island

The Big Lots store in Carle Place on Long Island just outside New York City is awaiting a consignment of plastic spray bottles and digital bathroom scales from the BBC Box.

The Box has arrived at a distribution centre in Tremont, Pennsylvania, and from there the goods - made in China - will make the final journey by truck.

Big Lots is a chain of more than 1,300 stores across the United States.

Greg Muhlig is the manager at Carle Place.

"We sell a variety of goods," he says.

"General merchandise, furniture, home decor, auto, tools, some toys, food - everything that you would find in a Kmart or a Target or a WalMart."

Weekly deliveries

The spray bottles will go on sale for $2 (1.30) each and the bathroom scales for $14.

Martha Cintron
Ninety-nine per cent of the things are made in China
Martha Cintron

The store has sold out of its current line of digital scales, which have proved a surprise Christmas hit.

"You wouldn't think of giving scales as a Christmas present," says Mr Muhlig, "but apparently that's what's happening."

Many of the goods sold in Big Lots are imported from China.

This store takes a delivery from the Tremont distribution centre once a week.

Tight purse strings

Customer Martha Cintron is buying a set of china cups and plates made - appropriately - in China.

Big Lots
Deliveries from China arrive weekly

"Ninety-nine per cent of the things are made in China," she says, "which is not that great, but they're cheap."

Joe Esposito, who's retired, is also watching the pennies.

"I try to do the best I can and as long as I can pay the bills I'm happy," he says.

"I just watch where I spend my money."

Overall, imports from China to the United States have fallen as the recession here bites.

But for cash-strapped Americans this winter, cheap goods from the Far East - of the sort delivered by the BBC Box - still meet a need.



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