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Nail vendors at Richmond Night Market face stiff competition

The night market owner said foot traffic will increase and it's too early to tell which businesses will do well.
Some nail vendors are offering discounts at the Richmond Night Market as they face stiff competition.

When the Richmond News recently visited the Richmond Night Market, there were 11 press-on nail stalls in operation, including 10 full-time vendors and one temporary vendor.

Guanyu Li was one of the last nail vendors to sign up at the night market. 

“If I had known how many nail vendors there were, I definitely wouldn't have chosen this category to sell,” said Li.

“They (night market staff) didn't inform us before entering the night market. They explained it involved personal privacy issues,” Li added.

Having so many similar vendors in the night market is having a financial impact on some of the press-on nail vendors.

Vicky Yang, another vendor selling similar products, told the News “there is not only a press-on nail store in every row, it’s like dividing a cake among 10 people.”

“The category of press-on nails is too narrow. Unlike other jewelry stores that can sell necklaces, rings and bracelets, press-on nails have no more products to extend to,” Yang explained. “They only have slight differences in the style, which make each owner (feel) resigned.”

Facing stiff competition, Cassandra Zhuang, a third stall owner, chose to design unique styles on her nail production to distinguish her style from other stall owners’ nail goods.

“During the worst times, I can only sell one set of nail art per day, so my nail price originally was $45 per set, and I’m selling them for around $35 per set now,” Zhuang said.

When contacted by the News, Raymond Cheung, owner of the Richmond Night Market, said press-on nails are one of the most popular items at the night market, and he cannot explain why an individual booth isn’t selling well.  

“We currently have over 120 retail booths available for this year,” Cheung said. "Per our policy, booths offering similar categories of products are not permitted to be located close to each other.”

“Customer preferences can vary significantly based on factors such as type, style, price and quality of products,” he added. “It's important how customers respond to the offerings, as the attractiveness of the items can influence their purchasing decisions.”

As it is early days for this year’s Richmond Night Market, Cheung said he expects foot traffic to increase by mid-June “which traditionally marks the beginning of the high season.”

“This year, we expect tourism numbers to be much higher, and a new record of attendants is expected,” Cheung said. “We believe it is too early to determine if this vendor has already failed.”

King Lee, a fourth nail stall owner, was also frustrated about being one of 11 vendors.

“I was angry from the first day, seeing so many businesses,” she said.

Lee lowered her prices from $20-25 to $10 per set and applied the “buy three get one free” strategy to cover rent for the full 13 weeks of the market.

“It’s a total of 81 days, but not every day has high foot traffic,” Lee explained, “There are too many costs that I should consider: competitive price on the same goods, rental cost, labour cost. I just want to earn back the rent now.”

Before Lee decided to enter the night market, she intended to venture into the beverage industry.

However, Lee was informed by Richmond Night Market staff that “there were already five beverage stalls and no more similar competitors were allowed.” 

Therefore, Lee switched to a press-on nail store instead. Lee said she was told hers was the fourth or fifth press-on nail store to enter at the end of October last year.

“Why is there strict control over beverage prices, but wearable businesses face such leniency? It's fair for them but unfair for us.”

After complaining, Lee said she was told the contract didn't place any restrictions on retailers.

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