Louis is a young man, only 24 years old this year. He has been working in his family flower shop since he was 17 years old. Recently, he decided to take over the business of his family, in order to meet the wishes of his parents. In the beginning, he was just responsible for the computer paperwork, handling the boxes of goods, and helped modifying the flowers only. But as his parents are getting older, naturally he has had to shoulder more work.
(Louis the flower shop owner 花店老闆 ） （店面擺滿著客人的訂單）
He said that in the past, it was easier for immigrants get into this industry because they would get additional points. However, in these years they had already lost this advantage, because everyone can participate in this industry. Moreover, there is the high cost of maintenance: rent is becoming more expensive every year and minimum wage is rising, and so on. Under these worsening conditions, it is getting more difficult to operate the business. Fortunately, because there are other partners, who are funeral home owners, they are able to bring the business to the flower shop.
Are there any more factors that make your business hard to operate? Yes, the quality of medical treatment in Hong Kong are better than before. The death rate is declining in Hong Kong and the competition in the industry is very fierce. Therefore, we have cater for traditional festivals as well, especially Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. On the whole, the business of the funeral industry in Hong Kong has all declined. The biggest reason is that Hong Kong’s economy has deteriorated. Now is the peak season of the funeral industry, but today only a few cases of business, how to make money? If you ask me, this industry is certainly a sunset industry.
In Louis’s observation, the traditional funeral ceremony has gradually faded. It is because the economic environment is bad, the public would prefer everything to be simple. There are many older generations who care about customs and traditions, but the younger generation regard it as a heavy burden. Therefore, the younger generation in dealing with funerals, they are not willing to spend money, even though the government provides $ 15,000 to families in need.
As he has been engaged in this industry for a long time, and everyday he sees life and death, Louis said that he is used to facing life and death. He said, “I have a secondary school classmate who died a few years ago because of illness. I didn’t know but I’d been seeing too many sad scenes and busy with work, I didn’t realise I had become so numb to these things. Who doesn’t die?”
When asked about the most memorable experience, he said: “There is no unforgettable thing, but one incident is more memorable. At that time I had to send flowers to the morgue, and because the deceased had cracked her/his skull because of a fall, I had to mentally prepare before I entered. Luckily because of my preparation I didn’t have any special feelings about that. I also often nap in the funeral home. (laughs)”
Louis also noted that Hong Kong has many forms of schools, that you can study the funeral industry. He said, “Those students are studying the ceremonies professionally, but I don’t think this is useful for them or the industry. It is because no one trusts a student who graduated from a funeral school. In our industry, we only talk about the trust between us and the client. If the client doesn’t believe you, then everything is over. In our industry you can’t just study from books, you have to participate in the real events. Those students, they don’t know a lot of things, especially the ways of the world.”
(A coffin used to furnish. In chinese Feng Shui, means promotion of wealth)
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