Eat durians on the cheap, as long as you return the seeds at this Saigon shop

The shop in Vietnam’s Saigon receives about 500kg of durians daily from Dak Lak, Lam Dong and Dak Nong Provinces, which are sold out in one afternoon.
The shop in Vietnam’s Saigon receives about 500kg of durians daily from Dak Lak, Lam Dong and Dak Nong Provinces, which are sold out in one afternoon.PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

Want cheap durians? Return your seeds after polishing off the fruit.

This is what one shop in Vietnam's Saigon is doing. And business has been brisk.

Hundreds line up for almost an hour outside the shop every day for its cheaper durians which go on sale at 1pm. The fruit is sold at prices that range from 30,000 dong (S$1.80) to 40,000 dong per kg.

The owner of the shop Le Hong Long explained his way of business in a report in Vietnamese newspaper VN Express: "The demand for durian seeds is very high this year and the price for a kg is four times higher than last year, from 30,000 dong to 120,000 dong. So we use this way to collect the seeds and grow durians for our next season.

"The durians are cheaper, at half the current market price since we collect the seeds. But we still make a profit even if it's not much."

When the shop first started the seed redemption, customers were required to eat the durians on the premises and return the seeds on the spot. But as space was limited, customers were allowed to take the durians home if they put down a refundable deposit - 30 per cent of their total bill.

Customers have to return the seeds within two days to get their deposits back. Durian seeds are considered unusable after two days.

The shop receives about 500kg of durians daily from Dak Lak, Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces in the Central Highlands. These durians are sold out in one afternoon and the shop collects about 50kg of seeds every day. These seeds are packed and sent to farms immediately.

Due to high demand and the shop's policy of allowing only 10 customers at a time to choose their durians, customers have to wait almost an hour for their durians.

Yet, they seem satisfied.

Tien, a 21-year-old customer quoted in the same report, said: "I bought a few kilos here because the price was much cheaper than durian in the markets, and I'm happy to return the seeds anyway so the deposit is fine by me."