"40 shops in 10 square meters" is the second hottest search keyword on Yahoo China today, 1,917,822 searches in one day.
A Du, a young man in Xian has been nicknamed by his friends "the smallest real estate agent in China".
A Du and his shop
What A Du really has is a consignment shop. Generally known as "Cubicle Shop", or "gezaipu" (格仔铺), it is a place where people can lease a small cubicle space in the shop to display thing they want to sell. Therefore, you can walk into the shop and browse products from many small sellers at the same time. This concept first started in the UK, got really popular in Japan several years ago, then it became huge in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, seems that now China is catching up. A Du divided this rented shop space into 120 cubicles which are leased to 40 sellers.
(One Consignment Shop in Hong Kong)
This type of shop is particularly popular with the young people. The rent of the cubicles is extremely low compared to leasing one entire store in a mall, most sellers don't have that many products to fill the store anyway. Consignment shops give them access to the shoppers but take away the high fixed cost and the hassle of minding the shop.
(Fee schedule for a consignment shop in Hong Kong)