A pop-up market at Alexandra Road is hoping to showcase Hong Kong talent while offering a taste of home this weekend.
“A lot of my friends do crafts at home and sell them on the side, like dim sum, Hong Kong-style sauces, leatherwork, and t-shirts. So we thought, ‘What if we set up a small market and sold our products there?’” said Chris Ho, the organizer of the pop-up market and founder of 3721 Productions.
Those from Hong Kong might recognize Ho, who is a member of the Hong Kong band Yellow! (previously known as Wildchild). Ho has more than two decades of experience in Hong Kong’s entertainment industry, where he also worked as a music producer and in talent management, event and concert production.
When Ho left Hong Kong to settle in Richmond back in 2020, he realized he would have to start over from scratch.
“More and more people are coming over from Hong Kong and more and more people are speaking Cantonese… So I thought I could do something for Hongkongers and Hong Kong culture,” Ho told the Richmond News.
“I want to show Canadians the motivation that Hongkongers have along with our other strengths. I also want to bring over the culture we used to have in Hong Kong and sustain it here.
“Let’s use Canto-pop as an example – there are a lot of topics that won’t be mentioned or be broadcasted or written about nowadays. As musicians living overseas, it’s our duty to sustain our culture.”
Finding 'home' as a member of diaspora
To preserve and promote Hong Kong culture, Ho has been working with fellow Hong Kong diaspora musicians to produce Vanto-pop – which stands for Cantopop with a Vancouver diasporic twist. He also holds regular gatherings called “Blow Water Club,” (to “blow water” means to chew the fat in Cantonese) the goal of which is to help newcomers settle into Vancouver.
Ho is also teaching music as well as producing videos about life in Canada for his YouTube channel The BIG Van, many of which feature Richmond.
While Ho is dedicated to preserving Hong Kong culture, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s homesick.
“What we miss is the Hong Kong from the past, the Hong Kong that existed before we left. The city today is different, and Hong Kong is just a memory in our minds,” he said.
Ho is also hoping to show Hongkongers that life after immigration can be exciting and fulfilling.
“Home is not a place, it’s where the people are. It’s just like when Thor’s planet exploded and the characters said, ‘It’s okay, our planet is wherever our people are.’ So wherever there are Hongkongers, it’s home.
“It might sound sad, but it’s okay. We can use this memory and sustain it overseas, not just in Canada but also in the U.K. and Australia,” Ho added.
A market showcasing Hongkongers by Hongkongers
The Made by HongKonger pop-up market is Ho’s latest project, and he plans to hold more markets in the future after receiving overwhelming support from community members.
Those visiting the pop-up market can find Hong Kong-style sauces by MAMAintheKITCHEN, traditional Hong Kong treats by Vancouver Birthday Bun, as well as accessories, apparel, and soaps. Ho will be giving a teaser of his music lessons at his booth, and a tarot card reader will also be setting up shop.
“I chose Richmond because I’ve got connections with the restaurant where we’re having the event… And there are a lot of Hongkongers living in Richmond, and it’s also very convenient. So Richmond was perfect,” he said.
The market will be held at the Dot to Dot Lounge on Alexandra Road on July 9 and 10 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. Customers will also get to enjoy Taiwanese food and drinks made by Hongkongers.