Friday, August 22, 2008

The Foreign Buyers Club (FBC)

One of the reasons I have lived so happily in a foreign land for half of my life is the existance of a food import business based in Kobe, Japan called the Foreign Buyers Club. Originally a group of friends who wanted to order large chunks of cheese, wholesale (therefore less expensive) to divide up among themselves, the current FBC has evolved from that original group gradually growing to a membership in the tens of thousands. My member's ID no. is 217, which tells you how long I've been relying on them (almost 20 years)!

Many years ago, after FBC had expanded to include breakfast cereals in their selection of goods, I was a little hard pressed to order an entire case of Quaker Life cereal and I didn't have anyone living near me who wanted to divide up the case (usually 12 boxes) with me . I mentioned this to Chuck, the man who founded FBC and continues to run the company, and he generously offered to buy half the case with me, enabling us to enjoy Life Cereal for a few months one year. This kind of personal attention to members' problems or concerns has always attracted me to continue giving them my business. Despite enormous growth in the past fifteen years, the people who man the phones and computers are still as nice as pie and willing to go that extra mile for you.

They first had a mimeographed catalog they sent out to everyone, with only the names of the types of cheeses listed on a few pages. But today there are three colorful, photo-packed catalogs sent annually to each member: The General Store (where you can order cases of stuff as well as individual boxes or units from the states to be shipped to you within a month of ordering), The Deli (which hooks you up to items already imported into Japan that FBC gathers for you and delivers to your door within a week) and The Learning Center (filled with teaching materials and children's DVDs, box games, books and craft items as well as a number of magazines and books for 'grownups').

There is a reasonable shipping charge added to the total order, and a low annual members' fee guarantees you keep up-to-date with their newletters and special offers. Personally, I try to order only when there is a free shipping deal offered.

In addition to everything listed in the catalogs, you can find thousands more on their websites (one in English, the other in Japanese) and if you call the office, they have an even larger data base from which to order. All you have to do is give a bar code, or explain about a product you saw in a magazine, etc and the helpful staff will hunt the items down like bloodhounds. They have expanded over time and have an LA office now and an express service (in which you can order stuff from the states and get it delivered to your door within a week for a higher postage charge).

I can't say enough good things about it. Thanks to FBC, I can continue to bake cakes for my students' birthdays, take in jello desserts, brownies and a pot of chili to church potlucks, open a can of decent vegetable soup for lunch on a day I'm too tired to whip up anything else, and try foods from all over the world. I've enjoyed potpies from Australia as well as shortbread from England. We can buy chicken legs from Denmark or lamb chops from New Zealand. FBC was the source I turned to every time I baked a turkey for Thanksgiving, when my son was young, and I can honestly say I can no longer live without them!!

Thanks, Chuck, Ryohey and all the rest of you great folk on FBC's staff! I love y'all!!!

1 comment:

Twice Blessed China Mom said...

What a wonderful resource! So glad you have this!