瑞成紅線葫蘆 傳承五代暖冬 | Rui-Cheng embroidered red calabash passed down through five generations of warm winter

張寶仁夫妻合力經營百年棉被老店,憑藉網路好口碑在市場上保有好成績|Zhang Baoren and his wife runs their century-old cotton quilt shop. Its good reputation online has brought great success. (Courtesy of Wang Han-shun)

【看英文中國郵報學英文】中午過後的士林夜市大東路,只有少數幾家店面開張,而高掛著「嫁妝」招牌的「瑞成手工棉被店」已有客人上門,這家傳承130年的老店,就藏身在這巷弄中。

In the early afternoon, only a few shops on Dadong Road (大東路) at Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) are open for business. However, you may already see customers entering Rui-Cheng Handmade Cotton Quilt Shop (瑞成手工棉被店), a 130-year-old shop hidden in the alley with a signboard that says “Dowry.”

手工製被 紅極一時|Handmade Cotton Quilts Enjoyed Popularity for a Time

第五代經營者張寶仁,國小就在棉被店和工廠幫忙,擁有40年資歷的他,可說是棉被產業的觀察家。翻開家族創業史,130年前從桃園大園鄉起步,以前的人買棉被只認師傅,自家出品的棉被以紅線繡成的葫蘆商標來做區別。後來大園老家失火,第三代李火琳決定北上謀生。李火琳做生意實在、為人風趣,只要提到棉被,士林、陽明山老一輩一定會想到葫蘆商標的「火琳伯」。

Zhang Baoren (張寶仁), the fifth-generation owner of this 130-year-old shop, has been working in the cotton quilt shop and factory since elementary school. With 40 years of experience, he serves as a long-term observer of the cotton quilt industry. Looking back on the history of his family business, he says that Rui-Cheng Handmade Cotton Quilt Shop was established 130 years ago in Dayuan Township in Taoyuan (桃園市大園鄉). In the old times, people purchased cotton quilts from quilt masters they were familiar with. Therefore, the handcrafted cotton quilts were distinguished by their red embroidered calabash trademark. Later, the family home in Dayuan was destroyed by a fire, so the third-generation owner, Li Huolin (李火琳), decided to start over in Taipei. Li was a grounded and cunning businessman. When it comes to cotton quilts, the older generations in the Shilin and Yangmingshan areas would immediately think of the calabash trademark and its owner “Uncle Huolin.”

張寶仁聊起老一輩以手工打棉被的年代,因為製被用的純棉怕溼氣,當天打多少棉就一定要做完,免得接觸空氣後產生露水,因此製被師傅一工作就是好幾個小時,彈棉花的工具背在身上又很費力,加上冬被通常集中在夏天和秋天製作,飛揚的棉絮對吸呼道更是沉重負荷,所以一床床手工棉被都是老師傅們的真功夫和心血,也因為使用材質為純棉,棉被不容易變硬成團,蓋起來特別溫暖舒服。

Zhang mentions the time when the older generations made cotton quilts by hand. Since humidity may deteriorate the quality of the natural cotton used in quilts, all the hand-picked cotton of the day must be quilted to prevent it from producing dew after contact with air, so the quilt masters usually worked long hours every day. Operating the cotton fluffing instrument was very energy consuming, and winter quilts were usually made during the hot months of summer and autumn. The cotton fibers flying in the air were harmful to the respiratory system. Therefore, the handmade cotton quilt was the fruit of the excellent skills and immense effort of the quilt masters. Because the raw material was pure cotton fiber, cotton quilts would not harden easily and were considered exceptionally warm and comfortable.

張寶仁說,農業時期,大家的生活都十分儉樸,棉被是可以典當的高價值商品;接著工業時期經濟起飛,大人、小孩有各自需求,銷售量急速增加。張寶仁回顧那段父母親共同經營的黃金歲月,適逢1970年代台灣經濟逐漸起飛,加上婚嫁必須買新棉被的傳統習俗,「瑞成」儼然成為專賣正統手工棉被的代名詞,1977年更達到銷售巔峰。

According to Zhang, during Taiwan’s agrarian period, life was plain and simple, and quilts were a high-value commodity that could be pawned. Afterward, when the economy took off during the industrial period, the sales for quilts surged higher because adults and children had their own demand for quilts. Zhang recalls the golden years when his parents were running the quilt shop. It was during the 1970s when Taiwan’s economy was gradually taking off, and buying new cotton quilts as a wedding dowry was still the tradition. Rui-Cheng became a synonym for selling orthodox handmade quilts, and the sales reached their peak in 1977.

張寶仁談及母親話當年產業榮景,每天請10位師傅,以手工做出近30床棉被。一床10斤重的棉被價格達800元,相當於當時一般民眾半個月的薪資。

Zhang shares his mother’s words about the prosperity of the industry in the past. Around 30 cotton quilts were handcrafted by 10 quilt masters every day. The price of a 6-kilogram cotton quilt was NT$800, or the equivalent of half a month’s average salary at that time.

1990年代師傅手工打棉被的景況|A quilt master is seen working on cotton quilt in the 1990s. (Courtesy of Rui-Cheng Handmade Cotton Quilt Shop)
1990年代師傅手工打棉被的景況|A quilt master is seen working on cotton quilt in the 1990s. (Courtesy of Rui-Cheng Handmade Cotton Quilt Shop)

搭上網路 老店逢春|How the Internet has Revived the Old Brand

然而傳統產業榮景難以延續,二十多年前,張寶仁接手經營時,面臨轉型的挑戰,瑞成在1987年打破自製自銷的觀念,因應學生需求,賣起價格低廉的化學纖維被,同時也引進新潮的羽絨被和羊毛被等產品,並結合夜市低價、叫賣等經營策略,才漸漸讓生意起死回生。

However, the prosperity of the traditional industry proved difficult to continue. More than 20 years ago, Zhang took over the shop and faced the challenge of transformation. In 1987, Rui-Cheng changed its business model from making and selling quilts by themselves to selling less expensive chemical fiber quilts to meet the needs of students. Meanwhile, they expanded their product offerings, selling trendy duvets and wool quilts, along with a new bargain basement low-price strategy commonly used in night markets to gradually bring the business back to life.

「現在手工棉被銷售僅占營收的十分之一,後來加入的寢具和家飾反而漸漸變成主力。」張寶仁不諱言,2002年台灣加入WTO後是重大打擊,接著智慧型手機出現,方便大家在網路上比價購物,這也讓實體店面生意直直落;不過,張寶仁順勢而為,在網路上為百年老店創造另一個行銷管道。

“Nowadays, sales of handmade cotton quilts account for only one-tenth of the revenue, while latecomer items of bedding and home furnishings have gradually become the main sales drivers,” says Zhang. He doesn’t deny that many businesses have encountered major changes since Taiwan joined the World Trade Organization in 2002. Afterward, the rise of smartphones allowed people to compare prices and shop online, which caused major sales declines for traditional brick-and-mortar shops. Fortunately, Zhang went with the tailwind of the online shopping revolution by launching the century-old business’s website as another marketing channel.

「除了原本設置的官網和粉絲頁,我也會主動去網路上回答消費者的問題,以此打響知名度。」張寶仁坦言,現在人很怕買到劣質品,會先在網路上爬文看商家口碑,再打電話詢問。目前瑞成的銷售量,有五成是來自透過網路搜尋而下單的。

“In addition to the existing official website and fan page, I would proactively reply to consumers’ questions online to increase our publicity,” he says. He also admits frankly that people nowadays are worried about the quality of the products online, so they will first review the shop’s reputation online before calling for more information. Currently, online orders from search results account for 50% of Rui-Cheng’s sales volume.

手工棉被從高檔身價,到成為人人可輕鬆擁有的必需品,再至現今面臨各式科技原料夾殺,百年老店瑞成始終以天然純實的本質,陪伴台北人度過每一個凜冽的寒冬。

The once expensive handmade cotton quilts have become a necessity available to all. Facing stiff competition, Rui-Cheng, the century-old shop, gets people in Taipei through every chilly winter with its pure and down to earth nature.

以紅線繡成的葫蘆,是瑞成傳承五代的經典商標|Calabash embroidered with red thread has been the classic trademark of RuiCheng for five generations. (Courtesy of Wang Han-shun)
以紅線繡成的葫蘆,是瑞成傳承五代的經典商標|Calabash embroidered with red thread has been the classic trademark of RuiCheng for five generations. (Courtesy of Wang Han-shun)

Translation by Joe Henley

 


This article is reproduced under the permission of TAIPEI. Original content can be found at the website of Taipei Travel Net (www.travel.taipei/en).

這篇文章 瑞成紅線葫蘆 傳承五代暖冬 | Rui-Cheng embroidered red calabash passed down through five generations of warm winter 最早出現於 The China Post

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