Inside Stanley Market

We find out the inside stories from the people who love and work at the iconic Stanley Market.

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Lo Chi-wing, owner of 1+1 Co

“I have lived here for nearly 50 years and went to primary school here. In the 1960s, I worked for a local grocery store. As a little kid, my family shared a flat with about 10 other families, with just one kitchen and one bathroom shared among us all. “I started to sell vegetables and tried getting out of Stanley, working as a dishwasher and a cleaner. ‘

At age 27, I returned to Stanley and worked as a hawker, selling underwear to local residents. I moved into a shop after a year and have been here for 20 years. “My customers are mainly Americans and Europeans, and the top item right now is the selfie stick. I can sell five or six a day. I keep an eye out for new products – the shops are very competitive when we are selling similar items.”

Address: 5BD Stanley Main Street
Contact: 2813 5554

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T-Wong, owner and painting instructor at T. Wong Art Gallery

“Every day I travel to Stanley from Kowloon to the gallery. I was born in Singapore and, like every 17-year-old, I wanted to see the world. I took a ferry to the mainland. I still remember the immigration officer telling me: ‘You still have ten minutes to change your mind.’ At that time, it wasn’t an easy to travel around and moving elsewhere meant no return. “In China, I studied at high school and worked on farms. It was under Mao Zedong’s rule at the time. After six years, in 1962, I came to Hong Kong due to political pressure.

“I was able to live in a family who ran a rice business in Ho Man Tin. It was hard to get used to Hong Kong. After several odd jobs, I wanted to follow my passion for art, so I started selling paintings. When I started in Stanley in the 70s, it was as a street business and I would paint what my customers requested. Gradually customers started to build up, and I started this gallery. I also teach in my studio behind the shop. Once a western lady asked to throw a children’s birthday party there so I set up drawing boards for the 10-year-olds.  “Stanley has changed a lot. When I first moved here, it was very rundown. The community is awesome, with wonderful close neighbours.”

Address: 80 LG/F, Stanley Village Road, Stanley
Contact: 9202 9256

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Yip Yuk-zan, owner of Dragon souvenir shop

“I was born here and my family lived in Ma Hang’s wooden houses with six brothers and sisters. I still live in my grandma’s home (my grandpa used to work in construction in Repulse Bay and nearby). “Back then, Stanley mainly consisted of shops selling rice and groceries and the area was very rural. There were three primary schools (SKH Stanley Village Primary School, St Teresa’s School in Stanley, and the school for fishermen), I went to SKH because it was right next to where we lived. There weren’t any cars, only single-deck buses: bus 6 to Central, 14 to Shau Kei Wan, and 73 to Aberdeen. “As kids, we could roam the area without our parents worrying, but we never travelled out of Stanley because public transport was a luxury. It cost 80 cents for a single trip, and five cents could buy congee and cruller. Wonton noodles were 30 cents a bowl.

“I remember my parents walking to Repulse Bay or Red Hill. They only earned a few dollars a day, so 80 cents was a lot. We didn’t have water or electricity and either got water from the well near Pak Kan Uk or a water tap on the street. We used oil lamps. “In 1990, I returned to Stanley and have been running this shop ever since. Stanley Market used to sell only outlet products and it was very popular – no shops were empty. But business is quite a challenge these days, and Occupy Central really did impact us. “Now, there are always shops closing down and many are left empty. It is more difficult to sustain business now compared with the past.”

Address: 5-5A Stanley Main Street
Contact: 2899 0813

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Susan So Choi Sau-lan, owner of shoe shop Kong Kee Sports Co

“I was born in Stanley more than 60 years ago, the second of five siblings. My father started this shoe shop – he was a cobbler. He used to live in Causeway Bay and would walk to Stanley every day with his tools in baskets on a shoulder carrying pole. He would fix shoes by the side of the road in the same spot where the shop is now. “In the early 1970s, a man started bringing in jeans from outlets and sold them here. Before that there were just a few shops selling herbal tea and gold. Our business grew into a tiny store. Now we have two shops, one side is my parents’ property and the other half I share with a business partner.

“We have lived in different places in Stanley, including the wooden houses in Ma Hang and the one-storey houses at Eight Houses (Pak Kan Uk), which we shared with eight or nine other families. Where Watson’s is now also used to be two-storey houses. “As kids, we would play paper dolls, skipping, and I remember everyone paying ten cents to watch television at a herbal tea place. It was a luxury – five cents could buy a full breakfast.”

The kids were usually already asleep and I was allowed to just watch television. “After I got married, my husband’s friend  bought a small rowing boat and windsurfer. It was a new concept in 1979 when I started windsurfing; I was in my 20s. My brother took up the sport and we saved up to buy two windsurfers – he placed third in the 1984 Asian Games. I also participated in local windsurfing competitions and was champion of the women’s league for seven years. That was before Lee Lai-shan. I used to be super tanned. “Before I took over the shoe shop, I ran a windsurfing centre on Stanley Main Beach (1981-1991), teaching people from age three to 70.”

Address: 1C Stanley Main Street, Stanley
Contact: 2813 1925

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Annie Leung Yuk-lin, owner of Lotus Village

“I wasn’t born here, but I have lived here for a long time. I was the seventh of nine brothers and sisters. My family lived in one of the two storey houses on the waterfront – we were a fishing family and occasionally I would join them on fishing trips. “I worked different jobs in the city before returning to Stanley about 20 years ago. I rent the shop – we’ve been in several different locations – and my daughter helps me. We have a factory in China, making our own silk clothes.

It is quite tricky dealing with mainland factories. Rent is quite a big problem for us and there’s a lot of competition. We faced hard times during Sars and the financial crisis, but the problems are even more serious now. Many tours come into Stanley, but the tourists only have a short period of free time to shop. And it’s unfair that guides often tell tourists to bargain – if some shops rip off tourists, it doesn’t mean we all do.”

Address: 2A-6A, Stanley Main Street
Contact: 2813 1233
Website: www.lotusvillage.com.hk

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Tsang Gon-tak, construction worker

“I was born and raised here. I am now 64 years old. I am the youngest of four – my two brothers and sister are triplets, born in 1949. Sadly, one of my siblings passed away. My dad used to work at a hair salon, and my mum worked for the fishermen, helping to clear seaweed and oyster shells at low tide. When they switched to working in Repulse Bay, they would walk there – it took about an hour. I went to school at St Teresa’s, Stanley. At weekends, I collected firewood. “One of the biggest changes to Stanley was Typhoon Mary in 1960 – it swept away the market and killed lots of people. We used to live in wooden houses, and my dad had to open the door and let the water flow through to prevent our house being knocked down.

We fled to a hotel that used to be here, which acted as a shelter for us. Afterwards, the government distributed rice for each family for one year. “One of my most vivid memories was witnessing the sinking of the Queen Elizabeth liner after it caught fire in 1972 in Victoria Harbour. I watched the whole thing happen before my eyes. “At age of 17, I started work at the petrol station on South Bay Road. My salary was $120 a month, but my boss deduct $40 for expenses. Managers were quite ruthless back then.

Luckily, I got quite a lot of tips from westerners – in good months, I earned $70-$80 in tips. I worked 8am- 8pm, six days a week. After a year, I changed to the oil extraction field, then worked as a dishwasher at the Repulse Bay Hotel. Thirty years ago, I started building wooden houses. “My customers are mainly Stanley residents, I work as a contractor in their homes and shops. I have two friends helping out tonight. Stanley is a safe place to live with simple people – my workplace is basically open, but no one would steal from me.”

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Cheng Kam-choi, manager of toy and bag store Kwun Fung
“I was born in Stanley and have lived here for about 50 years. I went to SKH Stanley Village Primary School. I used to run in the hills, go swimming at the Main Beach and the beach that disappeared with the reclamation for the waterfront promenade. “In the past, we lived a village life in twostorey houses built in brick and wood. The ground floor was a shop with an entrance on Stanley Main Street, and the family lived behind the shop. The second floor was shared by up to 10 families.

“My family ran a rice business serving solely Stanley people and fishermen, who would stock up on rice for a few days at sea. The rice came from Sai Ying Pun pier. I now manage a shop with my two elder brothers: one section sells toys and souvenirs, the other side sells handbags. “Every Lunar New Year, we used to have five nights of Chinese opera, but slowly it became one night and last year we didn’t have any. I miss that. Stanley is a great place to live.”

Address: 72 Stanley Main Street
Contact: 2813 0349

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