Fall semester, there was only one bar within reasonable distance of BNU. The Golden Bamboo. Last fall, it looked like a half-hearted Margaritaville party that no one showed up for. Cheesy bamboo walls, fake fruit on the ceiling. I often found myself alone save a couple of friends in this bar with a pint of shitty Beijing beer, watching a VCD of Chinese pop music in silence until the third pint or so when we would occasionally comment on the singer's boobs or how miserable Beijing is. However, over the winter break, the place got a facelift. A new bar started construction down the street in December, and the Bamboo got real scared of losing it's monopoly on BNU's foreign student market. The owner sunk something like $40,000 in renovations and it actually looks pretty nice now. It would make Martha Stewart proud with the ambient lighting, slick new tables and chairs, and new sound system featuring karaoke. Ah the efficiency of free markets!
Postscript to the story is that after doing well for a couple weeks, business sagged even more for the Bamboo since it became fashionable among most of the foreign students to go to the foreigner businessman bars, where you can take a long taxi ride in order to pay three times as much for beer in order to enjoy the privilege of watching sleazeball white men hit on Chinese women desperate for a green card. That's how the invisible hand works, I guess.