For retailers struggling with small businesses and little or no capital the Sai Kung market may reasonably be described as cruel. Gordon Chan, proprietor of The Wood Gallery, has down-sized and moved, and down-sized and moved, until now his little shop is hidden away in an alley.
In black leather jacket and tracksuit, Gordon has a hard man look relieved by a ready smile and affable chatting. “Rent just kept going up and up and I had to move out,” he said. “Last year I lost 80% of my business. It was the worst year for everyone.”
Gordon says he has the only wood furniture shop in Sai Kung. The furniture is all made in Thailand, often custom-designed. He started in 1988 in a shop with high visibility on Man Nin Street near where Kidnapped bookshop is now. The Wood Gallery did well there for 18 years until rising rent forced him out. He moved the shop to Yuen Long and six years later shifted back to our town. He opened in the alley between the Sai Kung Town Centre in a corner shop with good visibility. The Wood Gallery did reasonably well there for three years until the rent rose to $38,000 and he had to leave again. Now Gordon’s shop is in the same alley but you can not see it unless you walk into the alley between the buildings. The lease costs $18,000 a month plus for about 250 sq ft. “Now the rent is fine but I fear they will raise it up.”
Gordon stocks a myriad of items for house decoration. “The biggest customer bought $1 million from me, many years ago. They had a three storey place with nothing in it.” Hand-made wooden mailboxes, antique clocks and sewing machines can be seen in The Wood Gallery. There are garden gnomes and outdoor ornaments such as frogs, ducks and flamingoes. Paintings, door knockers, jewellery boxes line the walls. Some of his furniture, gnomes and garden ornaments spill out into the alley.
Gordon can be reached at 9088 4084.