If you’re a regular reader of Hong Kong Hustle you know that I’ve written about the city’s mini-malls regularly. I’ve explained the logic behind them due to Hong Kong’s exorbitant rents and the scarcity of land. I explained how they’re useful for new designers who can’t afford premium ground floor locations. I’ve also talked about a recent resurgence in the shopping centers and the trend to convert semi-profitable large spaces (such as cinemas) into compartmentalized mini-malls. Well, it’s recently gone one step further.
I was in Causeway Bay today when I ran into two friends in their early 20’s. The pair told me that they just opened a store in the neighborhood and invited me to stop by. I was curious! Two questions immediately popped into my head: what were they selling, and where were they selling it? They told me the space was on the ground floor, which further heightened my curiosity. Ground floor rents in foot-traffic heavy Causeway Bay are astronomical, among the highest in the world.
The shopping center they mentioned is called Laforet in English. It underwent a major renovation about a year ago and contains a series of small boutiques on each floor. It’s now slightly more upscale, but with the same equally youth-oriented offerings.
Passing through the mall I didn’t see their shop. I was expecting the two girls to be standing around and I couldn’t spot them on the ground floor. As I explored the rest of the mall I saw many different stores, but none that matched the description they mentioned to me. Exiting the building, I decided to give them a call to see if I could locate them.
It turns out that I had walked right by the shop on my way out. It is indeed on the ground floor. What I didn’t realize is that the interior of the shop, called Consignment, is actually subdivided into walls of two foot by two foot spaces stacked on top of each other. My friends had rented one of these mini-compartments and were selling cute knickknacks.
This is an interesting concept. The retail space is set against three walls of the shop and the sellers rent one or multiple cubes to exhibit their products. In addition to having the potential for diversity within the store, it allows people to test the water for a particular product before they make the commitment to opening a shop of their own. Additionally it’s a great way for young entrepreneurs to get their feet wet and learn the basics of running a small business.
I didn’t get the details about their contract terms or the staffing costs, but I assume that there’s a full-time salesperson hired by the company who looks after and manages all of the small boxes. It’s up to the seller to select, stock, tag and display all the items featured in their space. For every sale a certain fee, or percentage will go back to the main store.
I took the business card for Consignment and discovered that they have several shops in other high-traffic, high-rent shopping centers including Sino Centre, Windsor House and Causeway Bay Place.
The shop is an interesting experiment in creating a turnkey business and tackling the prohibitively expensive rents through communal power. According to their website it’s been around since 2006.
Consignment store address:
Shop G9, Laforet, No. 24-26 East Point Road
Causeway Bay, Hong Kong