A letter in the South China Morning Post asks why the paper’s business columnist Howard Winn is so against 7-Eleven selling beer in Lan Kwai Fong. The convenience store undercuts the district’s bars, which, the writer points out, is surely good for the consumer. He adds that the issue of under-age drinking is irrelevant as, to the extent it happens, all or many outlets are guilty. Quite.
If bar owners are hurting because of cheaper competition, they should cut their own prices. If they can’t because the rents are so high, they should sort it out with their landlord: get a cut in rent – or close, or relocate. To demand a reduction in competition to keep beer prices high is, ultimately, to support high rents, which benefit only the landlord. Who in many cases in LKF is, of course, Allan Zeman. Maybe the SCMP will next call for free buses to ferry Mainland visitors down to D’Aguilar Street.
There was a time when the LKF area had independent owner-operated watering holes with distinctive character and atmosphere, and things like beat-up wooden furniture (Caroline’s, Yelt’s Inn, Hardy’s, et al, yes – dewy-eyed with nostalgia). Virtually all have given way to pretentious and pricy ‘wine-bars’, ‘tapas lounges’ and the inevitable sports-theme places with brushed steel and neon, run by chains headed up by accountants. It has now got to the stage where 7-Eleven is the place with the authentic local ambience, where you can relax, and the staff know your name. It’s the tacky bars that should close.