posted on June 19, 2009 03:52
I spent an evening in Tom Lee’s music shop in Hong Kong lately. Easy to find – the punk kids loitering outside - and a joy to peruse, the shop is half a century selling musical instruments, sheet music and classes in the depths of Kowloon, Hong Kong’s densely populated entertainment district. Wedged in among the dim sum restaurants, Tom Lee’s Cameron St store in Tsim Sha Tsui opened in 1953. The store and another are today the company’s show rooms among the firm’s 20 outlets across Hong Kong. Interestingly they’ve also gone global, building out from a showroom in Vancouver to 9 stores accross Canada. There's also a Tom Lee's in Macau. It’ll be very interesting to see if they open up in mainland China: the many, mostly tiny, music shops in Gulou district down in Beijing’s historic quarter would all fit into Tom’s Lee’s two-storey premises.
John Lee, CEO of Tom Lee's music (thanks to HK Chamber of Commerce for pic)
I've written before here about China being the world's number one maker of entry-level instruments - and, increasingly, professional level gear too. Tom Lee's takes advantage of its China links in shipping cheap, quality gear into North America. Aside from the bilingual (English and Cantonese) signage and heritage - lots of collector-only guitar framed and mounted on the wall – Tom Lee’s has what most mainland stores lack: a vast product range, and knowledge of the product. That’s not to say that the stores in Gulou aren’t friendly and learning fast: they are. But how enjoyable to wander around Tom Lee’s for a few hours.