Merchant Profile: Vigi Boutique Survives the Pandemic; Open to the public for Shopping
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Wearing a red pullover sweater with a smattering of small red bows on the shoulders, Susan Yip is the epitome of fashion. Hong Kong fashion, that is. It’s back to business as usual for her at Vigi Boutique, a unique women’s apparel shop on Stockton Street. Started in 1984 by Susan and her husband Kenny, the shop provides trendy Hong Kong fashions, catering to both young and old. Ripped jeans, printed backpacks, thick-sole loafers with shiny buckles are items that continue to draw in loyal customers. We recently visited the narrow, but beautiful store to see what they are up to now that restrictions have eased.
Chinatown Book SF: Tell us when you moved into this new space, and how it was renovated?
Susan: We were originally in the Asian Mall on the same block but needed more space so moved into the current location at 1315 Stockton Street in 1995. In 2019, due to mandatory earthquake retrofit, we had to move to a temporary location on Broadway but have recently moved back. It has also been renovated with hardwood floors and better lighting. This location is slightly smaller, but on a busier street which we think has been more beneficial for business.
Chinatown Book SF: What types of Hong Kong fashions do you carry? What are the sizes?
Susan: We carry all types of women apparel and a lot of them are one size fits all, but we do carry clothes S, M, L
Chinatown Book SF: What is the feeling you want shoppers to have when they enter?
Susan: We want them to feel like they're entering an exciting place where they get to see and try on Hong Kong style clothing.
Chinatown Book SF: How would you describe Hong Kong fashions compared to American fashions?
Susan: They are a lot more colorful and feature quirky styles with patterns and flare. Usually HK fashions are one step ahead compared to American fashions. Often times you'll see that come to America 1-2 years later. The styles that were popular in Hong Kong are just becoming popular in America
Chinatown Book SF: How did the pandemic affect your business?
Susan: It was tough as we had to close for 6 months. That was the longest period of time where we did not work and had no income. After coming back, it still has been tough with a lot of people wanting to avoid Chinatown with the Covid-19 scare and also the rise in AAPI hate crimes.
Chinatown Book SF: Who are your typical customers and their ages?
Susan: Varies from young to older and all different kinds of people.
Chinatown Book SF: Other than clothing, shoes, and handbags, what else do you carry?
Susan: Belts, scarves, hats and other accessories
Chinatown Book SF: And there are no plans to go online, correct?
Susan: No plans to go online yet.
Chinatown Book SF: What joy do you have from running the store?
Susan: It comes from the community that I've built here. It's almost like I'm not working, I get to come to work, talk to the friends I've made that love to stop by the store and chat.
Chinatown Book SF: Did you run a store before this one? How did you get your business knowledge?
Susan: I worked at a clothing shop in Chinatown on Grant Avenue for a short time before deciding to launch my business. Growing up, I loved to sew my own clothing and would often make dresses and clothes for my friends and family. I knew from a very young age that I loved clothes.
Chinatown Book SF: We wish you a prosperous year, Susan!
Vigi Boutique 1315 Stockton Street (near Broadway)
San Francisco, CA 94133 Open daily 10:30 am to 5:30 pm