Chopsticks shop draws all kinds

Updated: 2016-02-04 11:11

By AMY HE in New York(

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Chopsticks shop draws all kinds

A salesperson at the Yunhong Chopsticks store in Manhattan's Chinatown. The shop's most popular chopsticks with tourists are those that feature zodiac signs. AMY HE / CHINA DAILY

These days, Yunhong Chopsticks' customers are mostly tourists - Americans from other states and Europeans from countries like France and Germany.

The 6-year-old chopsticks shop at 50 Mott Street in Manhattan's Chinatown is tucked away between a Chinese restaurant and several other eateries and tourist traps. The store offers hundreds of pairs of chopsticks costing anywhere from a few dollars to thousands.

Most of the chopsticks are wooden, decorated with symbols associated with Chinese culture - a dragon, phoenix, a lucky cat. Lately Western shoppers are keen on chopsticks with signs of the zodiac.

"They really like the zodiac chopsticks - they like to pick out the ones that fit their own zodiac sign and gift others," said Zoe, a saleswoman in the shop who declined to give her last name.

The eating utensils are mostly sold in sets of three to five pairs along with corresponding holders that are traditionally used at a dining table.

The company does no advertising, Zoe said, but it does find itself on the radar of tourists who either come across it as they roam Chinatown or read up on the area before visiting. Yunhong Chopsticks has been featured in several editions of a New York City guidebook called 111 Shops in New York That You Must Not Miss.

"We aren't aggressive about marketing, but people still end up coming here," Zoe said.

Asked about the level of chopsticks competence most customers display, Zoe hesitated before saying that most of the store's non-Asian clientele might not really know how to properly use them, but are more interested in giving them as gifts (most are in ready-to-wrap boxes). There are also children's chopsticks and novelty sets designed for beginners.

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