THE BOLD NEW SPIRIT OF HONG KONG’S FRESH MARKETS
“You’re not just shopping, you’re enjoying life”
A NICER PLACE TO SHOP
How does Link make sure that its fresh markets continue to attract people, particularly the young, who might otherwise be shopping in supermarkets?
“That’s easy,” says Keith Griffiths. “How do we entice people to shop at a new Link market as opposed to a supermarket? It’s a no-brainer. It’s just a much nicer place to shop, with a much higher quality product, at a much lower price. It’s a much nicer place to shop because it’s got a community, because you can meet people. You’re not just shopping, you’re enjoying life.”
“Really it’s very easy for a market, which is a dynamic social centre, to beat a supermarket for fresh food”
“I challenge you to enjoy life in a supermarket!” he says. “It’s just not a nice place to be. It’s a nice place to zone out, and that’s about it. Supermarkets are good for certain things, but they’re not good for fresh product. They don’t have the competitiveness. They don’t have the openness. They don’t have the freshness. They don’t have the turnover. And really it’s very easy for a market which is air-conditioned, comfortable, which is a dynamic social centre, to beat a supermarket for fresh food.”
Choice is really the word that describes Link’s markets. This stall here is selling 18 different kinds of yam in a rainbow-like display of colours. That stall over there is selling eggs in more shapes, sizes and hues than you knew existed.
What’s more, the stallholders can tell you everything there is to know about their fresh produce. The traders are each very specific in what they sell, and as a result, they are pretty much experts on their products.
“Supermarkets are good at selling predetermined lines, but they don’t sell knowledge of those lines,” says Griffiths. “They are just selling a range of predetermined, usually long-lasting, foods, whereas markets are very specific. They’re selling a relatively narrow range of fresh food and the people selling it know everything about what they’re selling. They know where it came from, how much it costs, how long it will keep, how long they’ve had it. They can tell you this meat from that meat, or which pork is doing well today.”
Some traders are selling Iberico pork from Spain, for instance. Ask them why, and they will explain in detail how its superior quality and nutrients are so much better than the others.
“The stall operators teach customers how to make dishes with their produce,”
Kong says. “They will say, ‘Today we have these in-season veggies which can be mixed with this and that for a yummy treat for your family.’ The personal touch never grows old and is always valued by customers.”
Lau Cheung Yuet-yung runs the Hon Cheong Seafood stall at Lok Fu Market. Their signature offerings are yellow oil crabs and giant groupers. She points out that she doesn’t just hand-pick the freshest produce, she also shares her culinary tips with customers.