|Qiu Zhengguo, 48, has mastered the art of guiding shoppers in malls to find what their hearts desire. (China Daily/Gao Erqiang)|
Qiu Zhengguo is the best-kept secret in the fast-growing fashion and luxury industry for some of the most cash-clad people in Shanghai.
He is a senior guide for a luxury shopping mall. Called Captain of the Housekeeping Department, he is one of the few in the industry.
"The city is full of bright shop windows and up-to-date fashion items, just like in Paris, London and New York," says 48-year-old Qiu. "But what is missing is someone behind the glass who doesn't try to sell, but tells of the beauty of each of these masterpieces like a museum docent."
Last September, the then newly opened Yifeng Galleria on the Bund placed a job advertisement in local newspapers for senior luxury shopping guides. As one of the landmarks in Shanghai, Yifeng houses some of the world's most famous brands including Bottega Veneta, Gucci and Pomellato.
"Yifeng Galleria is special because it houses some very exclusive brands in the market, which some customers may not be familiar with," says Ye Qizheng, editor-in-chief of Fashiontrenddigest.com, one of the leading fashion websites in China. The shopping complex is housed in a century-old building overlooking the Huangpu River.
Qiu says he is not surprised that "old die-hards" like him are well embraced in this fast-growing and emerging industry.
Instead of looking for someone young, energetic, and handsome, the galleria decided to go for someone mature "to match the style of the building".
The job advertisement has these requirements: male, aged between 40 and 50, Shanghai native, and preferably a laokele: Shanghai dialect for "old clerk", a well-respected job in the golden age of the city in the 1920s. The word later also referred to the refined lifestyle of gentlemen with good pay and family upbringing.
"When you say laokele, what comes to mind is a classy lifestyle pursued by people who buy luxuries. For Shanghai locals, the word means good taste, good manners and having the knowledge of how to have a better life," Ye says.
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