Sunday, May 20, 2018
Business

Mall shop specializes in Chinese florals, furnishings and a few useful items

SPRING HILL — Some shoppers turn up their noses at goods manufactured beyond America and are particularly disdainful of stuff "Made in China." But when it comes to Chinese wares representing the country's art and culture, the label is considered one of authenticity.

Such merchandise reigns at a Towne Square Mall shop that goes by the owner's name, Ying Fan.

A native of China — she was a floral designer in her home country before immigrating to the United States nine years ago — Fan has parlayed her skills into an embrace of many cultural and historical home decor furnishings and a few useful items.

Goods range from arrangements of silk and dried natural florals to handmade paper wall hangings, wall-size paper fans and paper lanterns; carvings in jade, bamboo and exotic woods; live plants of Dracaena sanderiana, or lucky bamboo, used in feng shui environs; replica swords and daggers; and porcelain figurines clothed in silk, representing various walks of Chinese life and history.

In the useful line are delicately hand-painted chopsticks, sets of tiny teacups and silk dressing gowns.

"Made in China," Fan says, with a sweep of her arm encompassing an entire aisle of merchandise, the largest emporium in the 10-year-old small-business mall.

"I just wanted to get out of the house," Fan, 50, said of her shop. "I didn't really want a business."

She took the plunge eight years ago, beginning merely with her florals.

Fan's arrangements tend toward the elemental and sparse Oriental style, which aims to showcase each individual stem. Every display is dramatic, many standing 3 to 4 feet tall.

"Yes, I make anything you want," she tells a customer.

The customer wants an arrangement in yellow. The entrepreneur scurries among a forest of cellophane-wrapped colorfuls. She emerges with a 3-foot stem bearing lemony buds. She taps a bud.

"Is real," she says. "Dried."

As the customer considers, Fan dashes to the end of the aisle to answer another shopper's query about a cellphone cover. Yes, Fan's wares include the mundane and sometimes tacky of Chinese manufacturing.

Mall owner Frank Torrito counts Fan as one of his strongest tenants among the 30 currently in business at the mall.

"She's very good at what she does," he said. "She's a nice lady."

By fall, Torrito plans to have in place more neighbors to Fan in what previously was a Walmart store.

"We're in transition," Torrito said of the property. "We're going to be putting in entertainment facilities in two aisles."

He envisions a bouncy house for kids, billiards, bingo, miniature golf and a go-cart track in the rear of the mall.

"That will help the tenants, too," Torrito said.

The mall is open six days a week, closed on Mondays.

Beth Gray can be contacted at [email protected]

 
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