An online campaign is asking Hong Kong people who support the Occupy protest movement to patronize shops and restaurants in the protest-hit areas.
Organizers of the campaign “Occupy supports small shops” said they are aware of the disruptions caused by the pro-democracy movement on small businesses in the areas where the rallies and sit-ins are being held, particularly in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, and are now asking supporters to help in reducing their losses, Apple Daily reported on Wednesday.
Using the campaign slogan “Embrace communities with love and peace”, one of the organizers said: “We are not afraid of pepper sprays, tear gas and violence from the triads when we are fighting for genuine universal suffrage. But let’s not forget that a group of people is sacrificing silently behind us. They are the small shops near the occupied areas.”
On their Facebook page, organizers have used Google Maps to list the names and locations of the small shops in Mong Kok that are affected by the road blockades to inform supporters where they may shop or dine.
They said they also want to make use of the opportunity presented by the Occupy movement to promote better relationship with small communities.
A worker at a retail store on Shanghai Street in Mong Kok said pedestrian traffic along inner streets has dropped significantly since buses stopped passing through a portion of Nathan Road. Business in stores that sell refreshments, wines and other retail items have gone quiet.
Customers will buy necessities in stores that are most convenient for them. “You can’t expect them to walk through several streets just to buy a HK$3 cigarette lighter,” he said.
Despite the business disruptions caused by the Occupy movement, the store worker said he admires the young activists for their dedication to their cause. He said he sees them sleeping on the streets even when it rains.
But he said hopes the entire Nathan Road will reopen soon so that pedestrian traffic will return to normal.
A clerk at a laundry shop on Dundas Street said business has dropped around 40 percent since the Occupy campaign started. Their main clients are beauty parlors and salons nearby. But as these shops are having poor business, their laundry operation is affected as well.
She said she supports the students’ clamor for genuine universal suffrage for Hong Kong, but unlike students who are fed by their parents, adults have to earn a living to be able to feed their families.
The 24-year-old owner of Coffee Lowa, an upstairs café along Dundas Street, said his shop, which only opened last December, has seen sales drop 60 to 70 percent since the protests started.
However, he said: “We want to fight for a fairer and more stable [political] system for the next generation… Income and costs should go hand in hand. Property prices should not go crazy. Only real universal suffrage can safeguard the next generation.”
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