Mr. Sheu Fong-yuan Revives the Traditional Craft of Fixing Umbrellas／傘的復活記！許一個不會散的情
Mr. Sheu Fong-yuan Revives the Traditional Craft of Fixing Umbrellas
◎English translation: Wendy Wei Chang
◎Photos by Pao Chung-hui, Li Ming-hui
Umbrellas are possessions that have a certain degree of sentimentality. Since people get so attached to them, instead of throwing them away, they often attempt to continue to use their umbrellas even after they have begun to fall apart. However, umbrellas and parasols will ultimately get lost or broken and therefore umbrellas do not stay in one's possession for very long. However, Mr. Sheu Fong-yuan explains, "Umbrellas can be fixed if they are broken. The problem is most people don't know how to take proper care of them so they last longer."
Mr. Sheu is the second generation owner of Ren Hau Umbrella Shop. He was born in the 80s and is the oldest child in his family. Mr. Sheu's family has been selling umbrellas for 22 years and opened the shop in 1997. In 2012, Mr. Sheu set up its webpage and began creating online videos that taught people the proper use of umbrellas and tips on how to care for them better.
Mr. Sheu's educational background is in information management. He also previously worked in finance and insurance. This has enabled him to explore new management styles that have enhanced his family's business. His focus is on understanding customers' particular needs. One example of how he has incorporated this model into the business is the various cards that can be found on the shelves beside the umbrellas with their names and product care information. There are many different types of umbrellas in the shop, including ones for rain and sun, foldable and lightweight, wind resistant and large 27-inch ones. Each umbrella comes with its own handmade instruction card, which also exemplifies Mr. Sheu's customer care.
Ren Hau was originally a shop that only sold umbrellas; however when Mr. Sheu Fong-yuan took over, it also became well known for its umbrella repair service. "At first, I took it as my responsibility to provide great post-sales service," explains Mr. Sheu. He recalls how he mastered his umbrella repair skills by disassembling the umbrellas in order to figure out their internal workings. "At first, I only worked on umbrellas that were sold in our shop, but after a while people began bringing umbrellas they had bought from other stores. I didn't even know why they were doing that! Then I learned that it was because people were posting information about our services online," he laughs. Mr. Sheu's skills continued to improve as the requests for him to fix peoples umbrellas increased. Ren Hau is so famous that even big franchises and department stores have used their umbrella repair services. He is honored that customers trust him to fix their umbrellas.
Thanks to his years of experience, Mr. Sheu is now a master in umbrella repair. "Before I sell an umbrella to a customer, I often remind them to take care of it," he says. Everyone who buys umbrellas from Ren Hau learns the correct way to use and care for umbrellas. As the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Even if maintaining umbrellas good condition reduces the number of customers and sales, Ren Hau's mandate is to keep the umbrellas in as good condition as possible for as long as possible.
Most of the older generation use cobblers to fix their umbrellas, however because shoes these days yield a higher return, cobblers don't want to spend their time repairing umbrellas. This has resulted in a decline in umbrella repair experts and the tradition gradually being lost. With increasing environmental conscientiousness and affection for ones umbrella, Mr. Sheu has not only inherited the family business but has also become an expert umbrella repair man. Technology and internet connectivity has also made this umbrella shop in a small alley behind Kaohsiung's train Station extremely well known.
| Ren Hau Umbrella Shop
||No.48, Chongcing St., Sanmin Dist.,Kaohsiung City