TUCKED away in a small downtown lane, a shop specializing in imported beer is soaking in success thanks to its growing popularity among the city’s foreign residents.
The Haifu Convenience Store, located on Fahuazhen Road in Changning District, offers some 200 beers from more than a dozen countries, according to owner Zhang Yindi, 52. Zhang, who first opened her store in 2005, says she has seen a steady increase in foreign customers over recent years, with many coming from across the city to find their favorite beers.
Guillaume Lecallier, a young man from France, said he was surprised to find Zhang’s store last October when he moved into the area.
“It offers so many choices of good quality beer, and the prices are nice,” he said.
Zhang, a beer lover herself, explained that she began stocking 20 to 30 foreign beers at her shop back in 2011, when increasing pressure from large chain convenience stories prompted her to change her focus.
“My store had to be different to stay afloat, so I set my eye on beer retailing,” she said. Zhang declined to discuss her shop’s financial results, but mentioned she was turning a profit.
Yet Zhang has earned more than just money from her shop’s growing appeal.
“My customers often ask me to join them for a glass and then we make friends,” she said. “We beer-loving people are truly sincere, open-minded and sociable.”
Zhang revamped her shop last year, adding tables and chairs where her customers can sit. As the shop has grown, Zhang says she can also offer cheaper prices as suppliers compete amongst themselves for her business.
Of course, Zhang’s store draws many local beer drinkers as well.
Fang Mu, a 33-year-old beer lover who works in a nearby office, dropped by for a few bottles yesterday.
“I didn’t know about this store until my friend told me about it, and I find it really interesting here,” Fang said. “One can easily buy beer from the Internet, but such beer-drinking ambience is hard to come by.”