Hong Kong is full of tiny pedestrian lanes, maybe 10-15 feet wide. Half of the space or more is taken up with street vendor stalls, leaving 3-4 feet for pedestrians to walk. On a busy Sunday afternoon, this makes for an exceptionally crowded, but fabulous experience. I literally wished I could shrink (since I am a relative giant here) so that I could weave my way through the streets more easily.
I came upon a great retailing strategy that uses street stalls as a solution to expensive ground floor retail space. Street vendors here require a license, which they buy from the government for abotu HK $4000 per month (roughly USD $850). This is a screaming deal compared to the ground floor shop rents (described by Julia in her post). The stalls have corrugated fiberglass roofs, held up by metal poles and grating and covered over by tarps and plastic. Their primary downside is that they are tiny. It’s hard to have much inventory in a street stall.
Today, as I was walking, a “supegirl” dress caught my eye and I asked if they had it in my daughter’s size. The woman said no, handed me a business card, and pointed me a couple of buildings down the street: “go up to the 19th floor” she said. I couldn’t quite imagine that there was a size 7 supergirl dress on the 19th floor, but I suspended my disbelief and went.
The elevator doors opened into the inside of a 2000 SF shop that looked for all the world as if it was a shop inside a Seattle mall. Only it was on the 19th floor. Crazy.
The street stall served (for $850 a month) as the window display and front door.