Shanghai has always been the place where new developments where brought to China. Department stores were of the main features, starting to populate Nanjing Road from 1913. Wing On was the third shop to open in 1918 after Whiteaway Laidlaw & Co (1913) and Sincere (1917) (more information about the history of Wing On this article from Shanghai Star). Wing On was clearly one of the most influential department stores in China, setting the trend for others in Shanghai and other cities. Fortunately, the Wing On shop still exists and is still a department store and the shop is now called Wing On again.
The exterior has been recently renovated, making it once again one of the stars of Nanjing Road. An additional building was erected in the 1930’s next to the original one. It also has a shopping center on the bottom (now hosting a massive Giordano shop), with an hotel above it. Both buildings are linked by two bridges that do not seem to be used anymore.
Unfortunately, renovation of the interior of both buildings has left very little of the original construction. They look just the same as the brand new shopping centers built in other parts of the city. The old time spirit has been completely lost, though the 4th and 5th floor have been turned into the great Qian Xiang Fang restaurant. Wing On and Sincere (the opposite department store) used to feature various animals and displays to attract people to the shops. Wing On seems to have restarted the trend, as they had 3 peacocks and a few other birds in a large cage in front of the shop in early March this year. This was attracting a lot of attention from people passing by, renewing an old tradition.
The object featured in this post is an original letter size note paper pad from Wing On marking the 14the anniversary of the shop. As the opening of Wing On was 1918, one can guess that this article was produced in 1932. I Actually found 2 of them of slightly different colors at the same time. Of course, the paper has become a little yellow but once again having this object in hand is like a transportation to the old Shanghai, it’s department stores and busy shopping streets.