A Consignment Shop @ SHHO Campus

S.H. Ho College has strived to motivate students to pursue innovation and benefit the society with their innovative ideas. In 2014, the College first launched the ‘Young Entrepreneur Programme’ to encourage students and alumni to turn their innovative and entrepreneurial ideas into reality. It is expected that the programme will help young entrepreneurs acquire essential skills in running a business and widen their business network. The winning entrepreneurial projects in the first two years of the programme were ‘Timing Bookstore’ and ‘HeyHome’ respectively. The former is an independent second-hand bookstore which differentiates itself from other mainstream bookstores in the way it operates, with the aim of enriching students’ reading experience. The latter project, HeyHome, is a food shop selling basically organic vegetarian food ingredients. They were given a 300 square feet indoor space on the ground floor of Chan Chun Ha Hall to run their entrepreneurial projects.

This summer the University community welcomed a consignment shop with simple and pleasant decoration, which settled on the ground floor of Chan Chun Ha Hall. A wide range of products, from small potted plants to leather goods, from cotton and linen bags to knickknacks and ornaments, fill the display window which has been partitioned into small sections with planks of wood. A great variety of beautiful handicrafts, decorations and organic products also cover the table tops, dazzling the eyes. The consignment shop is called Hong Kong Produce, the winning project of 2016 Young Entrepreneur Programme. It was founded by four CUHK graduates, three of whom are SHHO alumni. An interview with Mr. Peter Lam, one of the founders of Hong Kong Produce and an SHHO graduate from the School of Chinese Medicine, was covered in this issue to share their entrepreneurial ideas and the difficulties they encounter in implementing these ideas.

Young Entrepreneur Programme receives many applications from SHHO students and alumni every year, and the winning proposal must stand out from others in terms of innovativeness, business feasibility, financial planning, social awareness, etc. Peter Lam thinks Hong Kong Produce was chosen by the selection panel possibly because they have more innovative ideas and a clear vision. ‘On the one hand, we wish to help promote local handiwork and designer brands, as well as local movies and music. On the other hand, our diversified products and everyday items actually meet the needs of CU students and staff. Take daily necessities as an example. On CU campus, we usually have no other choice than those ordinary products available in a supermarket. Our shop instead provides the CU community with comparatively healthy goods like natural organic soaps and skin care products. To allow students to learn more about and appreciate the unique local art and culture, we also have a special zone in the shop to promote Hong Kong independent films, CDs and records.’

With no experience in operating any kind of shops, the founders of Hong Kong Produce chose to realize their first entrepreneurial dream by opening a consignment shop. When asked the reason behind their decision, Peter replied, ‘We consider that the consignment practice allows us the opportunity to cooperate with many people and to share the business outcomes with them. Every portion of the display window here is an independent unit of artistic creation, and altogether these units form a regular handicraft bazaar. When artisans consign their goods to our shop, they need not spend extra time and effort selling the goods in a stall.’ The shop’s consignors are mainly local handicraftsmen and local brands. Some of them were identified by the staff of the shop themselves, while others took the initiative to approach the shop in person. Basically, the consignors can determine by themselves the products they want to display in the shop. The shop does not plan to specialize in certain kinds of goods; instead, it welcomes more diversified choices for their customers.

Peter is glad that the consignment shop can be opened on CU campus because not only can they run a real shop with relatively small capital, but they also share a common philosophy with the University community in regard to their pursuit of refined art and culture, and their deep attachment to local things. Nevertheless, there are fewer people on campus than in the downtown area, and the shop has to consider the publicity issue practically. Peter said, ‘The shop is still at a preliminary stage of business development, and is not known to many CU students and staff. We hope there will be more visitors and supporters for local produce later. To promote the shop, we set up a website and Facebook Page. We will update our products and activities regularly on these platforms to tell more CU people our trends.’