Glimmer of hope

Glimmer of hope

At the end of last year, Causeway Bay was reported to be the most expensive place in the world to rent space - even ahead of New York's Fifth Avenue. Traditional eateries that had been there for years, such as Lee Yuen Congee and Noodles, closed down because their rents doubled.

This loss of street-level business is happening in prime districts from Causeway Bay to Sheung Shui. Small, old-fashioned outlets and restaurants are being replaced by international luxury brands, big chain stores, and jewellery and cosmetic shops.

Elsewhere, many small shops in public housing estates are also being forced out due to rent increases. People are concerned because the old-fashioned candy shops, cha chaan teng, grocery shops, handicraft stores and stationery shops are part of Hong Kong's heritage.

Volunteer groups are setting up websites and getting together on social networking platforms to promote small shops to the online community. These "field guides" help small retailers who are forced to operate on upper floors or in back streets gain new customers. Social activists say these shops help maintain community spirit in old districts, and strengthen the cultural identity of Hongkongers.



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