China / Regions

Traditional lantern shop finds its way back to the marketplace

By Fang Sha ( Updated: 2015-01-15 17:12

The time-honored lamp and lantern business in the Pingyao county, Shanxi province was popular back when there were large festivities or celebrations and corporations, institutions and government offices needed lanterns to decorate their halls and streets.

Then the central government started calling for thrift, budget cuts, and no unnecessary celebrations, so the industry was staring at a depressed market and a number of enterprises just shut down and the Pingyao faced a challenge. But, now, after some careful market research and management changes, it is on an innovative path that has led to success and the market downturn has passed and it's seeing a second peak.

It has shuttered the mass production lines that targeted big festivals and has turned instead to traditional lantern arts and culture and brought in new technology and developed new products to meet diverse demands from customers all across the country.

Li Xiaoqian, head of one shop, says that they have turned from single-product groups to arts and crafts and are "making culture" instead of just products. Previously, they only catered to Shanxi culture, but now they embrace Fujian, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Taiwan cultures as well and even got the invitation from the city of Taichung, Taiwan to take part in this year's lantern show during Spring Festival there. And, Li goes on, even though this may not bring in big profits, it could be a good way to increase their influence through cultural exchanges.

In their research, they also discovered a trend among museums and tourist spots that valued Chinese civilization and culture so they considered combining the traditional lantern business with tourism as another pathway and are now sorting through all kinds of historical materials and preparing for indoor exhibitions by cooperating with museums and exhibition centers.

So, it looks as if, in the battle for the market, this crafts shop has finally come out a winner.

Edited by Roger Bradshaw

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