Being located at the foot of the world’s foremost clothing producer has its benefits. While shopping in Hong Kong offers a cornucopia of brands, there are even more choices tucked away on side streets around the city. In fact, almost every major neighborhood in Hong Kong has some sort of store selling factory samples at a fraction of their normal retail price. If you derive pleasure from uncovering hidden treasures, then sample store hunting is for you!
Let’s get the definition of a sample store straight. I’m not talking about outlet stores that feature one brand, or the stock from one chain. We have those too. I’m talking about clothing that seemingly fell off the truck! The stores that sell this type of clothing put little to no effort into decor and the clothes are casually, sometimes neatly strewn about.
Hong Kong doesn’t have someplace like New York’s Century 21, which is a whole department store filled with discounted brand name goods. It does however have networks of small shops selling every kind of clothing imaginable. (People searching for large sizes (who may have trouble in normal Hong Kong stores) are in luck. I’ve seen larger sizes including XXXL available in all of the sample shops.) Perhaps this proves that the clothing was intended to be sold overseas.)
Brands I’ve spotted include contemporary names such as Ed Hardy, Dsquared, and Neighborhood, in addition to dozens of more blue-blood labels. Even better deals are available on high-quality, no-name apparel. Prices range from $10 HKD to several hundred for something special. In some stores the prices are so low that bargaining is not necessary. In others, as a general rule, the more you buy, the better your chance at getting a reduction.
Are they fakes?
Occasionally yes, but mostly no. If they are fakes, they are likely to be really bad ones that you can easily spot, or really good ones that would be difficult to discern. For whatever reason, the products might indeed be samples, dead stock, over-runs, or include some sort of unimportant defect.
Always do a thorough inspection of the item before you purchase it. Cash is the preferred method of payment. Some shops will not let you try on the clothes, but they often have a measuring tape that you can use to check the size. (Sometimes the labels are wrong! Check the size first before you buy.)
The sample store areas that I believe offer the best selection include Wanchai, Prince Edward and Causeway Bay. Sometimes these shops will have merchandise unavailable in other stores in the city.
Stock is always changing, which keeps the game fun. Once you explore a shop you will have a better idea what type of merchandise they specialize in. Some of the stores are chains who have other shops in say Wanchai and Prince Edward. The stock can vary from branch to branch! (I’ve been able to find different colors of the same style in different branches.)
Don’t pay too much! After you do a bit of exploring you will begin to understand the market price for certain items.
If you see something you like at a good price, pick it up! Chances are it may not be there the next time you return.
Only go sample store hunting when you have the patience and time to dig through clothing or jump from store to store, otherwise it can be frustrating.
Please feel free to add your favorite sample stores in the comments, or share any amazing finds!
Hong Kong sample store addresses:
63 to 205 Fa Yuen Street in Prince Edward. Very close to exit B2 of the Prince Edward MTR station. Located on Fa Yuen Street between Bute Street and Prince Edward Road West. One long block! You should walk not in the center, but on either side to spot the sample shops.
7 to 27 Lee Garden Road near 490 Hennessey Road (next to the side of the old Mitsukoshi.) This half a block area has some good finds! Jardine’s Crescent, the narrow lane next to exit F of the Causeway Bay MTR is also a good spot. Check the small shops on either side of the lane.
28 to 142 Johnston Road in Wanchai. Take MTR exit A3. The surrounding blocks are filled with sample stores. Just follow the tram line and you can find shops on both sides of the street. The side streets here offer even more shops. A few of these are somewhat over priced. Check the others before you buy.
Li Yuen Street East and Li Yuen Street West, near 55 Queens Road. Between Queens Road and Des Voeux Road in Central. Take Central MTR exit D2 and walk towards Sheung Wan on Queens Road to find them. Again, the stores are not in the central aisle, but on the sides.
Tsim Sha Tsui:
21 to 79 Granville Road between Carnarvon Road and Chatham Road South. Take Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station B1 and walk up Nathan Road until you hit Granville Road. Next walk East towards the main shopping section. There are fewer and fewer sample stores here. The remaining ones are on the odd numbered side of the block.