Photo Essay: Graham Street Market

Located in the business hub of Hong Kong, 160-odd-year-old Graham Street Market may soon be all just a memory of the past.

Under the current urban renewal project in Central, Graham, Gage, and Peel Street will be redeveloped into residential and commercial buildings, a hotel and shopping mall.

Some of the market vendors will be relocated, many will cease to exist. Read our original post here. 

As one of oldest outdoor wet markets in Hong Kong, Graham Street Market offers a wide selection of goods, from fresh food and flowers to groceries and curios.

“I only hope the government will keep its words to preserve most of the stores here. It needs to keep its promise with the Hong Kong people”  says Ten Ten

This lady, nicknamed Ten Ten, has been selling fresh flowers and plants on Graham Street Market for more than 13 years. In her eyes, the wet market is a place full of warmth and local culture. Facing the redevelopment plan, Ten Ten hopes the government will rehouse, not just some, but all the affected vendors and shop owners at the new market. 

“The city has to move forward but, the rent at the new market can’t be too high as it would kill off the small shops and businesses” says Yau, owner of Sweet Heart Fresh Fruit Shop

Located on Peel Street, the Sweet Heart Fresh Fruit Shop has been around for 20 years. Yau, understands that most of the old buildings around the Graham Street Market area are falling apart and in need of renewal. However, she thinks the new development should conserve both wet and dry goods stores, for the convenience of customers.

“We have no choice but to accept it. It’s a part of the city development process, some stores may survive while some may close down.” says Chan, staff of Kan Kee Noodle Factory

Kan Kee Noodle Factory has more than 60 years of history. At first the shop was located on Gage Street, and then it moved Peel Street in the 1970s due to urban development. It mainly sells Chinese noodles of high-quality to different restaurants in Hong Kong. 

“Relocating to an indoor market is like digging my own grave. The new market has no character – it will hardly attract any tourists,” says Annie Yan, owner of Yung Lee Hong.

Having been in business at Graham Street market for nearly 24 years, Yung Lee Hong sells antiques. Yan believes that old essential items also have value and meaning. Even though they are not displayed in a museum, they show what normal daily life was like in the past, she claims. Yan collects old toys, tea sets, comic books, gramophone records and other trinkets and gadgets.

“It’s difficult to continue running the stall in the future. There is nothing we can do to change the situation” says Lau, owner of a fresh vegetables stall. 

Lau, who was born and raised in Central, runs a 30-year-old vegetable stall. Like the other vendors and shop owners, he is worried that small stores like his will be squeezed out by high rents at the new market, and his fate is in the developers’ hands.

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