In the past few years, Neopia Central has grown immensely. There are so many new stores and we frequent them every day. We buy books, medicine, and every kind of food you could hope for! But have you ever considered the shopkeepers who make Neopian life so luxurious for the rest of us? Have you ever wondered why they became shopkeepers, how they set their prices, or what they think of all the little shops at the Marketplace? I, LizzyFrizzy the Tuskaninny, went exploring in the heart of Neopia Central to ask all these questions.
I first went to the Main Shops, which have changed a bit over the years. Older Neopets may remember when the Hospital and Guild Headquarters were there. First I met with the shopkeeper of perhaps the most iconic shop in Neopia Central: Neopian Fresh Foods, or “the Food Shop” as it’s nicknamed. The shopkeeper is Chef Chia and is best-known for his Gourmet Club, a sort of customer rewards society. I asked him a few questions:
LF: Why did you open a food store?
CC: Well, I love food, of course! I love the smell, I love how it looks, and I love very much how it tastes!
LF: In the past few years, specialty food stores have come to Neopia Central. Have they affected your business and how do you feel about them?
CC: I don’t make quite as much as before, but I’ll always have the advantage of variety. I don’t really mind them; the more good food the better, I say!
He gave me a NeoCola for free and I departed for the Magical Bookshop, or “the Bookshop” for short, that’s right next door. It’s run by a very intellectual Nimmo. He reads so much that he rarely makes eye contact with a customer, and certainly didn’t with an interviewer, so I quickly left. I was feeling a bit sick, so I stopped by the Neopian Pharmacy - run by Nurse Elephante – for some Neopkins. I realized that Nurse Elephante is something of a shopkeeper herself, so I couldn’t help asking her something:
LF: Why be a pharmacist? It must get pretty gross sometimes, what with all the sick Neopets around. And you work day-and-night.
NE: Well, all shopkeepers work day-and-night, which is why they’re some of my most common patients. It takes a lot of Medicinal Soap and Neck Braces to heal such a tired bunch. Remember that the next time you haggle with a shopkeeper; they get grumpy so fast for a reason! But anyway, I’m a pharmacist because I love helping people. Not to mention that I look fabulous in a nurse’s hat!
I was feeling much better so I headed for the Neopian Bazaar. It’s a bit newer than the Main Shops, but no less successful. Among the most popular stores there, tucked away in the woods, is the Toy Shop. The shopkeeper is Lollygag Lupe. When I told her what I writing about, she insisted that I include this comment:
LL: I and my associates make all the toys you find at the shop. They are the finest quality. So don’t go get some cheap, broken junk for your cherished Neopets. Come to my store.
LF: Are you having a hard time Neopoint-wise?
LL: Yes, a bit. So few owners buy good toys for their Pets. They just get a Key Ring or a little doll. But Neopets will get so bored with those. I got into this business to bring joy to Neopets, but owners refuse to purchase things that are the most enjoyable.
One store at the Bazaar that I just had to visit was the Grooming Parlor, operated by a well-adorned Usul. Suffice to say, her heavy make-up and peppy personality have alienated her from the more practical shopkeepers (which is to say, everybody). But this Usul says she loves her job of “beautifying” Neopia; she won’t be abandoning her pink-clad shop anytime soon.
The Plaza is still a growing area, but it’s doing well considering its newness. It also includes the most mocked shop in Neopia, the Second-Hand Shoppe. Only horribly disgusting, discarded items can be found there, but at least they’re free. The shopkeeper, a plaid-wearing Ruki, simply told me: “Having this job is better than having no job at all. Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far...”
I quickly fled the stench of the Second-Hand Shoppe and proceeded to the Music Shop. I had a lot of questions for the shopkeeper there, a well-dressed Kyrii named Bach, who is known for setting exorbitant prices for his wares.
LF: How can you justify a Violin costing almost 10,000 Neopoints? Many Neopets could never afford it!
BK: This is not just a Violin, madam. It’s a masterpiece; the artwork of a superior craftsmen! It is not my job to make music accessible to those unwilling to sacrifice for it.
LF: You know, I could get these instruments for less on the Shop Wizard. Don’t you know anything about comparison shopping?
BK: Oh I hate the Marketplace!! Owners come in and think they know everything about running a shop! Sometimes they set the prices too high, other times too low. But no matter what, it’s on a lark – just another way to earn NP. If the can’t make money running a shop, they can do it elsewhere. But this shop is my life’s work.
Well, I must say as I headed home that I was shocked by Bach Kyrii’s statement. After all, my owner has a shop. Was she really committing such a terrible crime? I asked her as she played with me. Her response:
Ponytail135: Uh, LizzyFrizzy, maybe you’re old enough now that I should explain something to you. See, you live in a wonderful place called Neopia. But the thing about Neopia is that it isn’t entirely, um... three dimensional. So it’s okay to make Neopian money with my shop; it’s not hurting anybody who, uh... cares.
I didn’t really understand what she meant – especially that part about so-called “dimensions.” Nonetheless, her disregard for Neopian shopkeepers shocked me. Sure competition is part of the market, but is buying from a professional shopkeeper and then selling their product again, making the pro into a mere distributor, in the spirit of Neopia? And can these shops stay around if owners only buy the lowest quality stuff? I mean, should there even be an audience for a Second-Hand Shoppe?