Down into Yen Chow Street in Sham Shui Po, there is a Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar, covering in tarpaulins and striped canvas, with a vest array of clutter at the entrance.
Siu Hong-ming, Henry, a fashion design student of the Hong Kong Polytheistic University, is a regular visitor of the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar, which is known for its endless amount of fabric in different textures and colors.
Strolling inside the bazaar, touching the fabric poke out from the pilling textile, Henry could always find his desirable fabric along the narrow paths, which are shrouded by textile.
“I come to Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar because it has a great variety of fabrics in any colors, and the fabrics is so concentrated that I could find the one I want easily with a reasonable price,” Mr. Siu said.
Not only Henry, the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar, which gathers a dozens of hawkers selling fabrics, also attracts a lot of practitioners and students of the fashion design industry, as well as textile and garment lovers for a visit.
However, according to a government press release, in order to have a greater housing supply, the government decided to demolish the bazaar and move all the hawkers into Tung Chau Street Temporary Market near the Sham Shui Po MTR station, which would reduce the cultural value of the bazaar.
“The cultural value of the market will be reduced, as buying fabrics in the Yen Chow Street Hawker Market has already become a tradition in the industry,”Mr. Siu said, “My teachers in secondary school and university, and even my mentors working in the design industry always suggest me to find my inspiration there.”
“We are like a family as our stalls are so close to each other, so sometimes when I get too many fabrics from the producers, or when I leave my stalls for toilets, they would help me to check and sell the fabrics” Mr. Ho, a hawker who has been running the stalls for 30 years, said. Good to include the source’s information this way at the end of the quote.
He added that the new market would not allow the hawkers to build up a close and good relationship relationship with other hawkers as the old market does.
Some people living in the Sham Shui Po District think that the Yen Chow Street Hawker Bazaar has already become an irreplaceable landmark of Sham Shui Po.
“Though there are lots of new fabrics shops in Ki Lung Street (a street in Sham Shui Po) as well, people would still buy fabrics in the bazaar,” Ms. Cheung Sau-lan, who lived in Sham Shui Po for 25 years said, “As it has been a symbol of fabrics and Sham Shui Po.”
In 2013, the government offered ex-gratia payment to the licensed hawkers in exchange for their licenses and held a lottery for them to continue their business in other markets.
The announcement met with strong resistance from the public as those unlicensed hawkers were excluded from the plan, and so the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department has recently proposed that all the lincesed and unlincesed hawkers’ stalls would be relocated to Tung Chau Street Temporary Market.
Under the new proposal, all the eligible can move into the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market nearby the Sham Shui Po MTR station, together with the licensed hawkers, to stay in their business.
“The present market doesn’t provide a good business environment for the hawkers that they have to be crammed with piles of inflammable fabrics without a permanent roof cover,” Mr. Ko Wing-man, the secretary for Food and Health of Hong Kong said in a statement to the legislative council. “The relocation is a win-win option that benefit to all parties concerned.”
Tung Chau Street Temporary Market is a more spacious market, with better facilities, such as toilets, fire prevention systems and fans.
Some of the people agree on the proposal as they think they can shop in a more safe and comfortable environment.
“I would sweat a lot inside the bazaar during summer, and sometimes I can’t even breathe, as the bazaar is too stuffy and overcrowded with the fabrics,” Ms. Elaine Wong, a cosplay lover who used to buy fabrics in the bazaar, said.
A tourist, Julia Saadruks from Chiang Mai said that a fabrics market with better facilities would make people’s shopping experience more enjoyable.
“The fabric street around the Wwarrot market in Chiang Mai, which is my hometown, is more well-organized with good ventilation system and safety precautions,” Ms Saadruks said, “This makes me want to stay and choose the fabrics.”
Yet, the relocation proposal could not gain full support from the public, as the homelessness issue around the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market is serious and the commodities of the market are too diverse.
Around 35 street sleepers live around the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market, sleeping in adjacent parks at night.
The homeless issue might affect business, Mr. Heung Ming-hau, a member of the Sham Shui Po District Facilities Committee, said in an interview.
Mr. Heung Ming-hau, the co-opted members of the Sham Shui Po District Facilities Committee said that the homelessness issue around the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market might weaken the hawkers business.
“The current hawkers’ business in the Tung Chow Street Temporary Market is already greatly affected by this,” Mr. Heung said.
According to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, one over third of the commodities being sold in the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market is food-related goods, such as fresh meats and fish, while the other two third of commodities are non-food related dry goods, which are not limited to fabrics.
“I would probably not go to the market for fabrics if the hawkers move to the Tung Chau Street Temporary Market, and go to somewhere else, as it would be difficult for me to find the fabrics when the stalls are not as concentrated as those in the old one,” Mr. Siu said.
More on Storify: https://storify.com/EmilyCheunghy/the-yen-chow-street-hawker-market