Today I got the privilege of speaking to Chloe Yong who owns a store called The Branches – a Unique Gift Shop. Situated on the 1st floor at Jalan Kuchai Maju 1, it is a fairly new store that opened up in November 2011. As I entered the store, I was greeted by Chloe herself and was shown around the store. Currently, Chloe goes to Full Gospel Assembly (FGA) in Kuala Lumpur. Looking at the store itself, I could see that it is a bookstore that is quite different from the rest of the other Christian bookstores I have seen. It gave me a nostalgic aura of “home” as it was decorated in its own unique way, very simple, yet it stood out to me. It even has a television and its own comfortable seating area for those that come into the store. There, I also noticed how the store had many different items not exclusive to books alone. It also has key chains, stickers, jewelry, clothing by Amenpapa and other local designers, house ornaments, notebooks, magnets, baskets, and more! Chloe even goes as far as to help promote “Go Palm” (eco-friendly, tree free paper brand) to help save the trees. It is her way of saying that she not only cares about promoting Christianity but also about the world and everything else surrounding us that God has made. Besides that, she also helps to promote and sell “eco-baskets” which are weaved by Salaam Wanita, and in which she takes no profit. For those who do not know, Salaam Wanita is a group that believes in helping disadvantaged women in Malaysia and all proceeds from their “eco-baskets” go straight to their cause.
When asked about how the name of the store came about, Chloe says, “When I read the scripture from John 15: 5 that says, “I am the vine; you are the branches…” the word “branches” immediately stood out to me. This means that this shop is not just by me “Chloe”, it’s a shop for all.”
Chloe, when she was studying abroad in the United States, saw how a lot of young people there have the mindset that only when they retire, they will go to Church and she was upset with that because she’s young too but she did not feel that way because, she’s passionate about God. When she came back to Malaysia , she made connections with various entrepreneurs. From there, she learnt how to start her own business. She then realized that, that was what she wanted and that is to open a books store. However, she mentioned, “I do not really read books, so I decided to incorporate, gifts and fashion and many other items into the store to make it more interesting. Currently I do not depend on retail sales; instead I constantly reach out to churches, book fairs and more.”
She sources her products, locally and from other places overseas such as, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and more. In terms of the books she sells, she mostly caters to the Chinese market plainly because of the fact that there are only a few places where one can find Christian books in Chinese. In comparison, there are many places in Malaysia where one can find Christian English books, and that is why she does have a shelf for popular books in English but the numbers do not amount to the same. If one looks closely enough, you might see that the Chinese Christian books in her store are interestingly nestled tidily in a “big fruit basket like holder”, something that one would usually see in a grocery store. She says, “This isn’t expensive to get and instead of the conventional places to place books in, I decided to get this. It shows us that these particular books act as fruits for us as well”.
In short, this is a make store that is very different and a bookstore that reaches out to many types of people, accommodating to the Chinese as well besides English as well as many young people as well as those who would like something different. When asked what her vision is for the store, Chloe says, “I want the shop to be the first modern Gospel gift store in Malaysia and I would like to branch out and have more of these stores in the shopping malls here and also to gain more walk-in customers. For now this is a stepping stone and I’m just observing the customers habits that come in as well as trying to reach out to the public.” In addition to all that, customers who would like to purchase their items would also be happy to know that you can make purchases online as well.
For more information or to make a purchase online, visit their website at http://www.thebranches.com.my/