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#tbt SHOPPING… according to Hong Kong

Hey there!  I’ve noticed a lot of new followers lately, so welcome!  I’m glad you’re here.  I started blogging in 2012, to document my journey of living abroad.  Despite occasional attempts to focus on specific subject matters over the years, I always come back to the personal blog format: I write about myself and the stuff I think is worth sharing.  I thought it would be fun to reflect on this crazy journey by re-posting some of my favorite posts over the years.  Check back every Thursday for #tbt (throw back thursdays) posts!  I hope you enjoy.  

Originally Posted: June 14, 2012

Hong Kong may be regarded as the shopper’s paradise by some, but I beg to differ. Some say it’s better than New York City. It is nothing like New York City. I love Hong Kong, but shopping for anything other than million dollar cars, expensive watches, LV or Prada, well… shopping in Hong Kong kind of sucks! If you’re shopping for basic essentials like a certain brand of laundry detergent, a queen size mattress cover, or size 46 flip flops, you’re in for a very long and agonizing search. Add home furnishings onto your list, like throw pillows, dishes or bath towels… get ready for even more disappointment. These items are definitely available in Hong Kong (somewhere), but the options are very limited. Thank goodness for online shopping!

Anyone that knows me knows I love spending time in a great home store. Stores like Mecox, Jonathan Adler, Restoration Hardware, West Elm, or little independents like Nuvo or FortyFiveTen in Dallas, Patina or Room Service in Chicago or Flamant in Paris just do not exist here. The options are either super expensive or super cheap, nothing in the middle.

I’ve been a buyer and in product development for years. I’m a merchant at heart. I love great design and quality is very important. So, I’ll disclose now that I’m not your average consumer. Discussions on 8-way hand tied springs vs. webbing furniture, ballistic nylon vs. polyester luggage, percale vs. Egyptian cotton vs. sateen sheets, or 80 tip cashmere needle vs. 120 tip short needle Christmas trees … I can bore you like no other!! But still, I’d like share a typical shopping experience in Hong Kong. It took place at Lane Crawford, a locally based department store with three locations in the city (IFC Mall, Harbour City and Times Square) and two locations in China. Lane Crawford also has a second concept (which I totally love!) devoted entirely to home furnishing at One Island South and PP (Pacific Place).

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Even though I like shopping at Lane Crawford, they too can be frustrating. I needed bath towels. I went online and sourced everything I needed from Restoration Hardware (a US retailer known for great quality at moderate to high-end prices). Usually I find ordering online less expensive (even with paying international shipping charges) and definitely less stressful. But at times I miss that immediate satisfaction found by walking into a store, buying something off the shelf, taking it home and standing back and observing a great sense of accomplishment.

So lets compare…
Moon Cake to Moon Cake or Moon Cake to Moon Pie??

Restoration Hardware (online, from the comforts of my air conditioned living room)
Item: Bath Towel
Retail: USD$28
Weight: 802 Grams
Loop: Long Staple Cotton
Quantity: 8 towels delivered to my home within 2 weeks
Total Cost: USD$320 (including international shipping)

Lane Crawford (40 minute walk or 15 minute bus or taxi ride)
Item: Bath Towel
Retail: USD$103
Weight: The Sales Associate had no idea what I was talking about, but said they could find out and call me later with the answer… maybe next day.
Loop: Again, deer in headlights moment… they had no idea.
Quantity: I needed 8 towels. After waiting 15 minutes, they suggested I return after lunch. After lunch they informed me they had 4 at that location, 2 at another location (would deliver to my home at no charge) and the other 2 would arrive at store within 6-8 weeks… maybe.
Total Cost: USD$825

As you can see, shopping in Hong Kong takes patience, tolerance and a lot of money! Sometimes there are exceptions to the patience and tolerance. Last summer I purchased a bed and two nightstands from Lane Crawford that I also found at Crate and Barrel (US retailer). The same bed was 23% higher at LC even after including international shipping costs to Crate Barrel’s retails. However, Lane Crawford could deliver all 3 pieces within 48 hours. Even though it was more expensive, I felt the higher costs was worth getting it faster. Bottom line, always do your research and weigh your options.

If you don’t mind stuffing a down blanket under your airplane seat, Central Chidlom is a great alternative. Central Chidlom is a seven story department store in Bangkok, offering good quality products at reasonable retails (comparable to Macy’s in the states). And if you live in Hong Kong, don’t tell me you never find yourself in Bangkok!

HELPFUL HINTS: was recommended by a friend who found a way to get Target products delivered in Hong Kong! She needed a charcoal grill and couldn’t find one in Hong Kong at a reasonable price. Here’s how it works- will provide you with your own US street address for domestic-only shipping retailers (like Target). Once your items arrive at your address, they will repack your shipment making sure all items are secured for international travel. They will also hold domestic deliveries for months at a time in order to consolidate all your items and ship to your international address at a cheaper consolidated rate.

US only Credit Cards- I used to hate that error message when completing my online orders, but not any more! You may also use your address for those online retailers that require a US billing address. Yes, I know, you’re welcome.

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: about last September… | HONG KONG according to KEN

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