By Jenn Suh, Maya Miller, Amelia Arthur, Jed Lindorff
Its flashing lights and traditional Chinese music attract customers of all kinds. Shanghai Bazaar, owned by Fei-Hong "Lily" Song, is a unique shop filled with contemporary and traditional Asian gifts. A variety of products including swords, books, jewelry, CDs, DVDs, statues, Chinese fans, costumes, and musical instruments cover every inch of the store.
Over the past twelve years, Song has owned a few Chinese stores. She started her business in a small rented shop on the third floor of a Chinatown building. After two years, Song found the building that is now her store, which is located on 11th and Race, in the heart of Chinatown.
As a proud owner, Song believes that her store is "the best book store in the United States." A myriad of Chinese books of many different genres fill most of the second floor. These books contribute to Song's goal to make the store a Chinese cultural center where people can learn more about the history and culture of China.
She also wants to demonstrate that Chinatown was not only about food and large crowds, but also about the Chinese culture itself. She notices that her store has helped change many people's opinions about Chinatown. "They change[d] a lot, before they always [thought] that Chinatown only [had] restaurants and [was] a little crowded. So a lot of people change[d] since I'[ve] [had] this store."
All of Song's items come from China. For example, the musical instruments, which are an essential part of Chinese culture. Song herself plays the Chinese guitar, which is sold in the store. Her favorite items in the store are the Chinese opera CDs, as Song's family has an opera background. These are the best-selling items in the store, and provide the music for the store.
Customers enjoy the peaceful atmosphere that the music creates. Maureen Gavin, a loyal patron of the store, says, "I like coming in here, because the music - it just elevates you to a different level." As the successful owner of Shanghai Bazaar, Song continues to share China's treasures.