Archive for the ‘shopping’ Category

Snicky's SIMBA pose

Snicky’s SIMBA pose

They hold a wide variety of dog food that cannot be found in other pet stores of the nature where it would be safe for you to ingest.  If it is good enough for human consumption it is good enough for my dog.  Don’t let the small location fool you as they are able to source most everything so long as it’s for the canine friend.

It is across the street from the Merton at the end of Catchick street.

Phone: 26281290

I am a big fan of Uniqlo.  It allows me to buy things outside my pay grade ie. supima cotton garments.  Their blazers are very affordable at $800/blazer & $600/pants for $1400 total and as my normal tailor will usually charge $3500.

Screenshot 2015-03-24 17.21.53Screenshot 2015-03-24 17.24.51

I quite enjoy going to the tailors and running through the swatch book.  I go on a regular basis as there are always new friends in town forcing me to play tour guide.  I have notice one thing, paralysis by analysis when it comes to choosing fabrics.  Everything starts to look the same after a certain point in time and I end up influencing friends with my newest commission.  Now I am only responsible for the introduction to the tailor and take a back seat.  Sit down and shut up.  My first ever suit was done at Tai Pan Row in IFC for a cool $7k.  My next suit at Bonham Strand under the guidance of Lee to a tune of $3,500.

I notice one thing, I have a very normal plain jane body type.  I fit off the rack just fine and Uniqlo clothing fits well.  My last few rounds of suits have been off-the-rack.  A friend told me about Cheung Hing Tailors in Central so I had to give it a try as it is $1098 for a suit, custom made to your specs.  At this price point it is cheaper than off the rack.  The tailor did the usual measurements with the only custom feature being the number of buttons.  Gone was all the selection to which I had grown accustomed to barking: working sleeves, lapel size, type of buttons, pleats etc.  The invoice is very third world where they give you a piece of swatch to delineate your selection.  The last time I got this type of service was doing custom made shirts in Cambodia.

cheung hing suit invoice, it's cheap

cheung hing suit invoice, it’s cheap

If you fit off the rack, there’s no way these guys can screw it up.  Bring a previous custom made suit from another tailor to which you would like for these guys to mimic the fit.  They do a lot of fast fashion and tuxedos so the fit will be fit and trendy unless you have an example to show them otherwise.  You get what you pay for in pricing so allow me to be the test case.  So long as the suit holds up to Uniqlo standards I will be a happy customer.  At the price point, it makes a great deal for throw-away clothing where you can look good at the beginning of the night and dashing while you puke all over yourself.

It would be a waste of time to go through their large swatch books only to realize the fabric is no longer available.  The countless hours spent pouring over fabric is a waste of time, take a look at the inventory in their office and pick from there.

Phone: 25239737

2015-04-03 15.04.59

the current crop of in-demand phones

Most of the vendors still do brisk business buying Apple products at a smidgen above retail for the China trade.  I find HK’s mobile phone market to be a good indicator for the strength of certain phone brands.  You will notice a real lack of HTC phones which were popular two years ago.  Samsungs seem to be in decline with Apple still the King.

2015-04-03 15.09.02

April 2015 pricing

I could not find a second hand Blackberry.  I want to get a BB Passport but there is no where I will pay more than the price to buy back at home, $450 USD.  It looks like Blackberry will need to conquer Hong Kong before I give it another chance.

2015-04-03 15.14.07

blackberry pricing.  $600 USD after conversion vs $450 USD in NA.  predatory pricing for suckers.

Hong Kong is one of the few places left in the world where fear mongering works seamlessly.  The land of endless insurance products to protect against every conceivable risk and door-to-door salesman are still prevalent.  One of which I will now try to highlight is Rainbow Vacuums.  All you have to do is go to Consumer Reports and read up on the reviews.  Before you even consider purchasing a Rainbow vacuum, look at the pricing on ebay and amazon.  It does not cost anywhere near the amount the HK distributor is asking $30,000 HKD.  I am not joking.  If you are dead set on Rainbow, purchase off amazon and save 50% right off the bat.  I trust amazon to uphold their end of the bargain vs the Hong Kong rep.  In typical HK culture once the money has changed hands you are on your own.

rainbow no way

rip off central

 

It’s no wonder pyramid schemes still work so well here.  Everyone is their own little corporation with the ability to place business.  HK households have housekeepers so in effect giving them employees.  Sad truth.  If you have a domestic helper, you don’t need a Rainbow.  If you don’t have a domestic helper, a more affordable vacuum will leave more money in your pocket.  Don’t let the door to door vacuum sales guy bully you.  Do your due diligence.  In this day and age, there’s no need to rely on door to door sales.  If the product was truly effective it need not rely on fear mongering.

rainbow, nope

rainbow, free with every purchase

Now think about it from a logical sense.  If the product was so awesome, would the big home appliance manufacturers not dedicate whole teams to doing it?  I would much rather trust the likes of Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, Dyson etc to sell me a functioning vacuum.  Don’t be stupid, dare to be different.

 

Hot Toys has been conquering the giant kids in all of us. They are the producer of Hollywood box office memorabilia, Marvel in particular. The toys are quite popular among the male demographic.  The toys are always on pre-order in North America so my friends figure since the toys are produced in HK, it should be available here.  In typical PDW fashion, I get tasked to do the heavy lifting.

The Hot Toys Secret Base can be found on the 20th floor of Sino Centre is MK.  The Secret Base is wall to wall display of every single replica the company has produced.  Great.  This should be a cake walk.  There are no prices on the models.  Uh Oh.  It turns out the Secret Base is solely set up for pre-orders.  It is a one year lead time until you take delivery of your highly detailed models.  One thing becomes woefully apparent on entrance, the company is a licensing juggernaut.  Terminator, Predator and all things Marvel.  Even in NA, I would have a tough time finding ample room to display this stuff.  I can’t imagine hording this stuff in HK.

iron man figurines

iron man

 

predator figurines

predators

It gets better.  Hot Toys has a retail location in CTMA Centre which is located behind Sino Centre.  The only problem is the CTMA store is big but there is only one wall of models available for sale and they are of the variety that collectors do not want.  To make the journey to Hot Toys is the same as going to a 5-star hotel buffet and being told you can’t eat.  You can pay but you can’t eat.  WTF.

ctma

available for purchase

Sino Centre’s first 4 floors are devoted to toys and games.  If you are dead set on purchasing a Hot Toys branded replica, these vendors will have it.  You will pay more than ordering from Hot Toys but you receive the instant gratification of being able to purchase on the spot.  Do not throw away the box.  The toys are the variety you put into display cases.  It’s no cheaper than buying in North America, it starts around $1500HKD and $200+ USD.  Can you at least sell me a t-shirt so I have something to show for this pilgrimage?

2014-12-31 14.00.13

China manufacturing and painstaking detail work.  Perfect example of China manufacturing prowess.

 

Hong Kong has a long list of food and drink importers.  Next time you are in the supermarket, take a look at the back of the packaging to find the local supplier.  In most instances, the supplier will sell direct so long as you buy by the box.  It’s Christmas so I am in the market for bubbly – Dom Perignon.  Watson’s Wine, HK’s largest online wine store retails it for $2k/bottle.  A quick google query shows a number of wholesalers that supply the wines to restaurants and hotels, the same bottle is now $900/bottle so long as you buy a case of 6.  In essence it is two for the price of one.  The same thing for my Japanese yogurt, the supplier to ParkNShop will only charge you $20/box so long as you buy a case of 12.  As long as I am not paying to a rich tycoon (Li Ka Shing) to whom I am sure does not need more cash from me, I will be happy.  www.wine-searcher.com for anything alcohol related.

ParkNshop and Wellcome use the majority of the same suppliers, in certain instances they import themselves cutting out the local supply chain.  The local suppliers are happy to supply at wholesale as they still make their margins.  I once had a supplier charge me retail pricing, I figure I was getting a deal only to see City Super selling it for the same price.  When dealing with suppliers, better bring a sharp pencil.  They will be glad to charge retail to those that don’t know better.

759 and Big Mart 360 is slowly eating away at the supermarket duopoly in Hong Kong.  I wouldn’t buy my wines from ParkNshop and Wellcome because a quick look at the label will show it is sourced in the grey market.  There is no need for French wines to make the trip to North America first, it’s also a good way of ensuring the wine is now vinegar.  Take a look at the back of the bottles.  I notice 759 stocking more product out of Eastern Europe and Turkey.  Must be a Mediterranean thing.

For clothing, there are wholesale markets on the Kowloon side which provides everything you need to buy in large quantities to resell back home.  Lai Chi Kok is home to textile juggernaut Li & Fung and in this district you will find all the overstock, suppliers and spillover from businesses that service this client.  The majority of the stuff is the korean clothing variety that is all the rage in the Causeway Bay district.

Lai Chi Kok's wholesale markets

Lai Chi Kok

Check out the inside, clothing is purchased in bulk and stuffed into the stereotypical HK red, white and blue bag for the start of the journey.  The majority of the stores will have signs stating they have garment manufacturing facilities in China so this will be the place to start on your journey to manufacture your own line.  They will also sell in smaller quantities but the majority of the buyers are here to buy in bulk.

clothing markets

Clothing maze

It’s also a good place to buy handmade jewelry before it makes it way onto the shelves of Zara.  A friend of mine curates her own collection of goods to resell back home.  This is the type of place she needs to visit.  Last time I sent her to Shum Shui Po without local knowledge.  Next time she is in time, Lai Chi Kok’s wholesale market will be her destination.

handmade jewelery

Hong Kong has legions of artisans.  Tailors are a prime example where it is cheaper to purchase a custom made suit cut and made to your proportions rather buying off the rack at any name brand store.  Brooks Brothers, Zegna and other branded male apparel seem to cater to the more money than brains crowd (to which the China buyers would fit).  Leather goods would be another.  Shum Shui Po district is filled with excess inventory, over stock and anything you would find in the creation of garments: sewing machines to leather and goretex.

I watched Tanner Goods blow up in the USA with the insatiable demand for quality made mens’ apparel.  A classic men’s belt off Tanner Goods is $105 excluding shipping.  The Horween Leather Company makes some of the finest most sought after leather in the world, which goes on to create some of the most exclusive leather goods; ex. NFL footballs.  Allen Edmonds will craft shoes using Horween’s NFL football leather.  I found it weird that the USA’s demand for quality made apparel has yet to gain traction in HK, only to realize HK’ers love consumption.  Quality made apparel defeats the needs and desires to consume at a voracious pace.  As a guy, there are items which should last a lifetime.

I notice people using kickstarter to offload the financial risk in fashion.  One item in particular which gains traction is the manufacture of quality leather belts ala the Tanner Goods model.  A simple leather belt, untreated so it develops its own patina over time.  Belts and shoes are two items to which custom made is warranted.  Shum Shui Po district being the manufacturing textile hub would be the place to spend an afternoon.

Tai Nan Street in Shum Shui Po is home to all things leather.  It’s home to both the hip trendy DIY leather stores hoping to give you the opportunity to make something on your own and the old school leather stores.  Artisans vs. Leather workers.  The trendy stores carry all sorts of exotic leathers to which you will need to buy in a quantity sufficient to make your article of desire.  For a simple leather belt it is another $450 to have one of the artisans massage the leather into the final product or $120/hr to use their tools and work it on your own.  It’s quite the endeavour once you do the calculation to do everything on your own.

the block

Tai Nan Street in the SSP district, this is the block to find leather work.

I chose to go to the leather workers and purchase a blank – untreated natural belt for $100.  The guy knew exactly what I was after once I asked for untreated leather.  He said many new customers walk through the doors buying these belts and adding their own buckles with a bit of detailing reselling for a huge markup in Central.  I shrug my shoulders in unison, suckers born every minute right?  Tai Nan Street is home to all things leather including the accessories that become the buckle.  It’s $20/buckle at a retail level, HKD dollars.  As the stores do a brisk business in wholesale, a big order drops your cost.

belt blanks

Blank natural belts

leather belt store

All things leather belts.

2014-12-09 16.54.43

buckle store in Tai Nan Street, Shum Sui Po.

The hardest part was negotiating with the Artisan Leather shops do let me use their equipment for a nominal fee.  I don’t need one hour to punch out a few holes and drive in a few screws.  Even at their shop rate of $120/hr plus my material cost $120, I still save big over buying from the USA.  It’s not USA leather but I suspect my China brethren need the business more so than my American friends.  You are in Asia, take advantage of the fact you are next door to the largest manufacturing power in the world making anything requiring labour input very affordable.

If you plan to patronize the artisan leather shops, go to the one below.  They were the first hip trendy DIY shop to open in the area, everyone else is just following in their footsteps.

first artisan leather shop in SSP

Brothers Leathercraft in Tai Nan Street in SSP

There’s no need to do everything on your own.  Be smart about it.  To put it all together is just finishing.  Even at the artisan shops, they do all the heavy lifting so you all you do is show up.  The hard part is gutting the cow, skinning the leather and tanning it.  The rest is just childs’ play.  It’s time to play.