Update: it is now September and the ceramic shop lease has run out. They are no longer here. It is now a sock and towel shop for a few months!
As stores vacate their spaces due to rent or other business decisions, landlords keen to keep the space in use and tenanted seem able to lease them out for short periods of time. It’s almost like an Airbnb for retail.
The tenants rent by days til their goods are sold or by month until the landlord finds a long term tenant. It keeps the neighbourhood lively and interesting… there’s never a shop shuttered for too long.
Ceramic shops seem to do fairly well as pop up stores, fragile but non-perishable. Here’s one that appeared on Wan Chai road last month.
Matching sauce bowls and soup spoons. All in pretty patterns.
Chopstick rests and dipping bowls.
Mugs and other random household items.
Lots of plates and bowls.
Small soup bowls in various colours and prints.
Small dinner plates and heat tolerant dishes for baking.
More plates and bowls with lids for kids.
They also have plain white crockery.
Then I spied more appetiser dishes..
Suggested pairings for your dining set.
It looks pretty fun to mix and match your place settings! And not expensive either:)
It wasn’t long ago that my favourite flower shop left Wanchai and is now under renovation to become something else. The usual frenetic and unforgiving pace of commerce in Wan Chai due to escalating rental.
I came across a new florist shop last week along Queens Road East that looked more like a fashion designer store than a florist. Here are some photos, I spent a good 15 minutes browsing around.
Done in a simple but nice black and white full glass frame with an open door, the shop looks very inviting.
Nice clean concrete floors and layered black shelving help to showcase the plants and flowers for maximum effect. I like the recessed lighting and spotlights that match the shelves.
They do nice big bouquets if you’re looking to impress a date, but I’m sure they can fix something up for you on request.
The selection of potted plants is nice and healthy.
As do the orchids and succulents. There’s something to suit every table and counter top.
I love looking at Bonsai. They have a few beautiful ones right by the window. Wish I could have one but every Bonsai I’ve owned has perished so I think it’s just not my thing…
I picked up a card when I realised that I had met the sales lady before in the other flower shop that I like. Both ladies in the shop are super nice and very helpful without being intrusive. You really feel like you can talk to them about anything.
They also have some artificial flowers which look amazing. I was quite impressed. It is similar in quality (or perhaps better) to the big scale florist at Hopewell Center but this look a lot easier to scan and decide.
I am seriously considering these artificial greenery as the recent thunderstorms have killed off all my plants. 🤔
Yup, these white roses are also artificial but they fooled me until I realised there was no water in the vase.
Speaking of vases, they have a small selection.
And at the very back of the shop, a fridge for the fresh flowers.
If you have a particular plant/ flowers you’re looking for, do contact them by phone or email. I think they can source the plants if unavailable in the store.
Find Le D’or here. It’s a 5 minute walk from the Wan Chai MTR or catch any of the 6 buses, 15, 10, 109 or 113 and get off at Lun Fat Street.
The owner is an artist, don’t forget to stop and admire the two intricate paintings by the entrance of the shop.
One of my neighbours told me that he was invited to test drive a Rolls Royce in Hong Kong via LinkedIn last week.
He was very surprised to have made it onto the target list and quite intrigued about how the algorithm/ marketing person decides what job titles would be the right level for Rolls Royce ownership. (R, if you do go, can we join you for the ride?)
I walk past the McLaren and Rolls Royce dealerships in Wu Chung House, Wanchai, almost everyday. I’ve seen parties thrown in the Rolls Royce showroom but never seen anyone browsing. The “Wraiths” do disappear from time to time, presumably for photo shoots, display elsewhere or perhaps test drives. It’s always a sight when the staff open those glass doors and drive the Rolls straight out onto the pavement, off the curb bouncing off onto the street.
The McLaren showroom is a different matter. Linked to the Rolls showroom by an internal door (same owner perhaps), it’s starkly contrasted by having a black interior floor and ceiling. The Rolls Royce showroom is lit up in a “heavenly white” (sort of a creamy butter-white actually).
The McLaren showroom hasn’t hosted any parties but it does occasionally host interviews and provides a backdrop. A sports supercar or two do occasionally disappear for a day or two but nowhere near as often as the Rolls Royce.
The McLaren cars are quite a marvel to look at, although I wish that the owner and staff would not be such anti social and marketing idiots. I mean, why put a toy McLaren car in the window that says “Not For Sale”?
If it’s not for interacting, why display it at all? Tesla on the other hand has a toy car in the window and it is for sale. You can get the same colour car for your kid. Inspiration and aspiration both rolled into one.
Why have a showroom on the ground floor by a bus stop if you’re not inviting people in?
Here’s a list of speeds versus price of McLaren versus the new everyday supercar, Tesla. Now that’s a value proposition.
Unfortunately McLaren is spelt incorrectly in the table above but you get the idea.
If you’ve had to bring wine to a friend’s house for dinner, you might have encountered something similar to this:
Me: “Ok so we should bring a bottle of red to go with the steak she’s cooking”
Partner: “Watson’s or Taste (PARKnSHOP)?”
Me: “err dunno, whichever is open I suppose”
15 minutes later at the Watson’s wine cellar.
Me: “ok so what should we get? By country or region or price?”
Partner: “Let me check my wine app…”
30 minutes later…… still at the Watson’s wine cellar….
Me: “decided yet?”
Partner: “let’s just go with the sticker that says it’s an award winning wine for 2016 and reviewer says it’s good.”
*SIGH*… very often the wine turns out to be pricier than we thought and tasting quite mediocre. I’m not convinced that a sticker is entirely trustworthy.
The antidote to this problem is to either have a sommelier friend who can quickly assess the budget-event-palate suitability or to have a knowledgeable wine shop owner walk you through their favourites.
In Wan Chai, the neighbourhood wine shop with the pre requisite chatty owner can be found on Stone Nullah Lane – Ross Wine. A little off the beaten track and hidden by the large logistic trucks parked there, you’ll need to look left to see the shop. It’s next to an independent art gallery and photography studio called the Wanchai Stallery.
We came across the shop last year while on a walk down from Wanchai Gap. I was very curious as to who had taken over the rather strange concept Chinese Timekeeper’s bespoke watch shop.
Ross did some simple renovation but kept the hanging hexagonal lamps, glass door and the nice steel handle that looks like the bezel of a watch.
Curious, we went in for a look. Ross (the boss) was very welcoming and happy to introduce himself and his wines. We found him knowledgeable and enthusiastic. He started the business promoting wines from Australia’s Margaret River region but has expanded his footprint to include New Zealand, Italian and French wines. Rieslings or Pinot Noirs, you can see what you fancy.
Ross has the tasting notes printed and stuck on the shelves but agrees that these can be somewhat vague and misleading. He presents his own opinion on the wines and can suggest a bottle ( just tell him with whom or what you intend to consume with it).
He’s also got some tasty beers for sale from a few different small breweries.
We came away with a small selection of beers and wine. I liked the Waipara Springs Riesling which was gobbled down during Saturday’s Easter BBQ. It made a subsequent bottle of white wine brought by a friend taste like cheap plonk.
Ross promotes “every day wines” -no fancy chateaus here- just affordable drinkable wines which haven’t soured on the shelf. Most importantly, they are reliably decent and won’t embarrass you in the company of wine connoisseurs. Ross curates the wines himself and takes the stress away from the selection process. This makes it easy to buy a few more bottles with confidence.
I walked by this shop a few days ago. What got my attention was that I noticed only men going in and men coming out. Young men, that is.
How strange I thought.. I wondered what the shop was selling. Aha. They were selling collectible model rally cars of all sorts.
Every car was carefully boxed for display and presumably a scale model. Given the price point, these cars are not toys to be thrown around.
They had a vintage Mercedes X wing on display, as well as a Batmobile.
F1 cars of all makes and sizes.
And so many that it fills up the walls right up to the ceilings.
They have another branch
And where do you find this shop? Along Wan Chai road near Heard Street. Nothing striking about their signage so you have to look out for it. Or get it delivered to you via their online shop.
On the penultimate day of Chinese New Year celebrations, Kee Wah Bakery decided to hold its official launch.
I happened to walk in the day before and saw them fixing up the models and generally sprucing up the shop.
The launch party in the store caused a huge pedestrian jam on the sidewalk.
And I swiftly realised that it was because the staff were out on the pavement and there were a few celebrities within the shop, hence massive crowding by its windows for everyone trying to catch a glimpse.
When I asked the girls outside who the celebrity was, they answered “which one? There are several…” ok, I’ll admit my celebrity knowledge is pretty thin. But I did recognise this guys stature, he’s in a lot of ads.
This Kee Wah flagship store in Wanchai is quite nicely designed. It’s reminiscent of the original store they had in Kowloon. The owners commissioned a model layout of the exterior and interior of the original shop. Nice touch.
With the little lights on, it isn’t difficult to imagine what it used to look like.
Wonderful detailing, right down to the minibus.
The interiors are just as spectacular. No details were spared, right down to the individual cakes and bottled sweets.
The store managed to incorporate a small real time bakery for freshly baked goods. I’m not sure if that’s permanent or just to impress the visitors for the first couple of weeks.
The store has all the treats in every possible combination. They have the traditional wife cakes in single and multiple packages, the more modern recipes, the cutesy stuff and the special box gift sets. They also have the Taiwanese style pineapple tarts.
There are two feature walls, one with a black and white tonal mural of a Hong Kong stairway (reminds me of Pottinger Street), the other with black and white photographs on their operating history.
What I appreciated about this store, is how they factored in disabled access. There’s a nice ramp on one side of the shop. Perfect for mommies with strollers.
You can see that business is brisk. It was launched with total professionalism and timing to coincide with Chinese New Year, a time of gifting and when loved ones would be visiting from other parts of the world.
It’s worth a visit if you’re in the neighbourhood. The store is right across from Hopewell Center.
Update July 2017: Sadly, this shop has shut down… please visit I❤️Cake on Wanchai Road for all your quality baking needs.
No, you don’t have to go all the way to Kowloon to buy baking stuff.
In Wan Chai there are two very good baking accessories and “raw materials” shops. There’s I❤️Cake along Wan Chai road near Heard Street and there’s Baking Story on Wan Chai road near the market.
Both have shelves stacked to the maximum with baking goods. Flour, check. Dried fruit, check. Cake and muffin molds, check. Jelly molds, check. Decorating accessories and sugar in every possible colour and consistency (fondant, icing, paint etc), check. Cake boxes, cards and stickers, check. Cream cheese and whipping cream, butter by the stick, check. Let’s not forget the chocolate. Valhrona 70% dark, check.
The difference I’ve noticed is that I❤️Cake sells equipment like tabletop mixers and different kinds of scales. They also do multi-level came display trays if you’re looking to get very creative with your cupcakes. Baking Story is a little more civilised, there aren’t things piled high in each aisle. In I❤️Cake, you’re perpetually at risk of tipping something over. Furthermore, I❤️Cake does have 2 steps to get up into the shop which is a bummer with a pram/ stroller. And there’s barely any place to park it inside. Baking Story however, has a lift lobby area and is accessible with wheels. That helps. A lot!
So it depends on what you’re after. Now I’ll post the photos so you can see what I mean.
I bought cranberries and white chocolate balls today from Baking Story to make some lactation biscuits for a friend. Here they are placed nicely in a box I bought from Baking Story as well.
Prices are reasonable and you can pay by Octopus. Yay!
They’re open 7 days a week.
Find them here:
Digging beneath the dirt… To find the good and the gritty