Richmond is flooded with bubble tea shops these days and simply having unique products and decor is no longer enough to beat the competition.
So much so that one of the newest ones has added four, built-in mahjong rooms to its store.
Lovin Tea, a bubble tea brand from mainland China known for its traditional Chinese-style dinks and decor, opened its first store in Metro Vancouver in Richmond - near Hazelbridge Way and Leslie Road - last month.
As well as the mahjong rooms, the shop is full of traditional Chinese elements such as antient architecture, Chinese paintings and images of ancient Chinese characters on its wall or cups.
The shop’s mahjong rooms are open until 1 a.m. which, according to owner Michael Shi, are charged $22.50 an hour and are also decorated in a traditional Chinese style.
“Mahjong is a traditional Chinese game so it matches our theme,” said Shi.
Fierce competition among bubble tea shops in Richmond: Shi
He said that with new bubble tea shops opening in Richmond all the time, there is fierce competition and his shop is under pressure like many other bubble tea shops, adding that the mahjong rooms and the bubble tea shop can complement each other.
“People can hang out in the mahjong rooms with friends after ordering bubble tea, or someone can come here to play mahjong and order bubble tea.”
Of his actual products for sale, Shi said that he “tried traditional-Chinese style bubble tea in China and really liked it, but there wasn’t one here in Richmond yet.
“So although there are already many bubble tea shops in the market, I opened one of the styles I like so more people can try it out. And given that there is a large Chinese Canadian population here in Richmond, I think there is a market for it.”
Shi explained that in addition to the shop style, their drinks also use traditional Chinese tea imported from China that adds a unique flavour different from others.