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FYI SOUTH Magazine, May 2004


Tech Shopping

By Xiao Jun-han & Steven Crook Translated by Yvonne Chen & Iva Huang

      Computer marts have sprouted everywhere now the "information era" has arrived. The streets of Taiwan's major cities are full of small computer retail stores, and in recent years the rise of franchise stores has created ever bigger shopping arenas. These offer customers broader and more accessible information; made up of contracted shops, computer shopping centers offer a variety of hardware and software products for sale and trial use.

      Direct-operation IT centers are a major sales channel. With open product displays and onsite service staff to offer advice and technical consultations, consumers can also touch and operate the actual product. Stressing the latest and most complete product selection, direct-operation IT centers offer the convenience of one-stop shopping and the hottest IT products. Perhaps the best-known example of a direct-operation IT center is Aurora (www.aurora.com.tw).

      The principal feature of contract-style shopping centers is that the center's management acts as the landlord, and the tenants are the individual shops. The landlord collects management, marketing fees, and rent, and is responsible for initial planning and recruiting, plus subsequent management and marketing matters as well as trucking details. Once the shops move in, it is up to them to bring in their own products, set prices, and make their own sales effort.

      The most famous of these, the GuangHua Computer Center, is in Taipei. In South Taiwan, contract-style shopping centers are represented by the Kuo Cheng E-Star 3C Plaza and the Jianguo Computer Plaza--both near Kaohsiung Railway Station--and Tainan City's Beimen Computer Plaza.

      Many household-appliance stores are evolving into IT centers and even 3C stores. These traditional appliance-stores-turned-3C-retail-stores are typified by Tsann Kuen 3C (www.tkec.com.tw), QuanGuo Electronics, ShangXin LianQing, Taiichi, ZhenGuang Appliance Wholesale, and Tatung Appliance Service Station.

      Individuals looking for digital cameras or other tech toys should also take a look at the hypermarkets such as Carrefour, RT-Mart, and Tesco. Choice is relatively limited, but prices are often competitive.


      If you're arriving by train, leave the railway station by the main entrance, turn left, pass the bus station, and keep walking for around five minutes to the intersection of JianGuo 2nd Road and LinSen 1st Road. The tech-toy shopping zone--the better part of a hundred stores on both sides of the road--stretches from here all the way to MinTzu 1st Road.

      There's a Tsann Kuen 3C outlet, but real tech-heads will head for the smaller shops. Each one tends to specialize. Notebook computers; brand-name or generic PCs; parts, computer hardware and software for self-assembly purposes can also be found here. First-time buyers can choose from a wide range of computer systems. There are also plenty of video and computer games, DVDs, CDs, and VCDs, plus heaps of peripherals.

      If you're totally new to the world of computers, a number of establishments in this neighborhood offer classes And don't waste time trying to park a car around here--take public transport, then a taxi home if you've made heavy or bulky purchases.

      Beyond JianGuo 2nd Road, there's NASA (formerly NOVA), centrally located at 4, JungShan 1st Road, but currently a little difficult to reach on account of construction work for Kaohsiung's mass rapid transit system. This shop sells computer peripherals, plus many smaller components such as sockets, connectors, and adaptors.


      If you're arrive by train, leave the station by the front entrance, and turn left. Walk along BeiMen Road Section for a few minutes, and you'll find yourself at MinTzu Road. From here southwards, reaching almost the FuChian-DaTong-MinChiuan traffic circle, is Tainan's principal electronic-goods trading area.

      The Beimen Computer Plaza--a perpetually crowded building is a good place to go if you need to fix or upgrade your PC. There's also a wide range of software and games, and--best of all--helpful and knowledgable staff.

      As on Kaohsiung's JianGuo 2nd Road, the BeiMen Road shops overcome space limitations by spilling out onto the sidewalk, and piling merchandise from floor to ceiling. There are countless places where you can get your printer cartridges refilled; others specialize in computer repair, software, or peripherals.

      This neighborhood also hosts the most central of Tainan's Tsann Kuen 3C branches. And because the techie stores are interspersed with shoe shops and stalls selling fashion knickknacks, the crowd around here is not so geeky as you might expect.

      ChingNian Road serves as an overspill to BeiMen Road, and now boasts a dozen or more tech business. Most interesting of these is the Shun Fa 3C branch (118, ChingNian Rd.; tel (06) 222-1996), which is bright, tidy, and comprehensively stocked.

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