Underwear shop for middle-aged and elderly people
On the west side of Yuyuan Street, Shanghai, China, are restaurants, pubs, and cafes jostling each other for space and “winning” the attention of passersby. Among them, the shop of “underwear uncle” still stands out. The shop owner is Mr. Zhu Shaozhang, 72 years old.
“If I get up late, there will be a crowd of customers waiting at the door,” Zhu said.
With an area of only 20m2, the shop takes advantage of each space to display all types of underwear. Those are products for middle-aged and elderly people, with reasonable prices.
Mr. Zhu introduced, men’s clothes mostly have blue plaid patterns, all sizes, while women’s clothes will be more colorful. The price of each item is written in clear numbers, pasted on the front. Usually they cost about 20 yuan (70 thousand VND) for each dish.
At the age of 70, Mr. Zhu confided that the purpose of working every day is not for making money anymore. His shop is like a small community for the elderly. Every day when he opened the shop, the first thing he would do was turn on the music. Those were classical music that he kept in his phone. Many times, regular customers do not have to shop but just spend time listening to music and talking with the shop owner.
China’s most famous “underwear salesman”
Mr. Zhu started this business when he was in middle age. In 1990 at the age of 40, Zhu was unemployed when the state-owned power plant where he worked laid off a series of employees.
At that time, a friend helped him find a new job, working as a salesman for a brand that sold underwear. It is a brand that specializes in selling affordable goods, with mainly middle-aged and elderly customers.
After a few years of accumulating experience, Mr. Zhu went out to work on his own, opening a cheap lingerie store. The shop operated quietly until it was suddenly “popular” in a way no one expected. At that time, the store appeared on the news of the central television station related to urban planning.
“At that time, the lingerie store was in danger of having to go to a new location because the street had to be re-planned,” recalled Mr. Zhu.
Then, Xinmin Evening News, a local newspaper, published an article about the store with the content “people need this lingerie shop”. The article attracted so much attention that Mr. Zhu not only kept the store, but decided to change the name to “Uncle who sells underwear”.
Three months later, the TV show Good Life Home contacted him to plan a free renovation of the store.
Thanks to that, the store became more and more known. Favorable business helps him to pay the cost of renting space in an increasingly expensive street in Shanghai. It is also known as the most famous “underwear salesman”.
“Once, 7 people in a family in Guangxi went to Shanghai for a vacation. They came to my store with empty suitcases and immediately bought more than 3,000 yuan (more than 10 million dong) for goods. They talked a lot. trust the products here,” he confided.
Besides his popularity, Mr. Zhu admits he doesn’t have a day off, including New Year’s. He sees himself as having a duty to maintain brick-and-mortar retail even as the rise of e-commerce makes more people accustomed to buying online.
“Older people are not good at buying things online. They still need brick-and-mortar stores like this more,” he said.
Initially, he planned to close when he was 75 years old. But now he thinks differently, wants to stay in business as long as possible.
“One day, I was surfing the net and read a story about a 97-year-old Japanese woman who continues to work as a nurse despite long retirement. She inspired me,” he confided.