CzipLee, a family-owned business that has been up and running for over 50 years since 1968, started as a humble sundry store in Kajang, Selangor. During its early days of sundry store business, CzipLee sold a knick-knack of items from sweets, newspapers and limited stationeries.
Through CzipLee’s family-style service and community spirit, the homegrown stationery business managed to expand its very first outlet in Kajang from a small storefront to a four-storey shop lot spanning more than 10,000 square feet of retail space.
CzipLee, who is also a stationery distributor, has also managed to sustainably retain its speciality services to offer patrons books & stationeries, as well as fine stationeries, art supplies, printing services, and lifestyle products. Today, patrons can browse through CzipLee’s combined inventory of more than 70,000 curated products at any of their stores in the Klang Valley and Johor.
Challenges Faced Over The Years
With the development of CzipLee’s business over the years, the successes achieved did not happen overnight. Many challenges that were faced related to the four elements of matter: Water, Fire, Air and Earth.
- 2011 (Water): Multiple flooding incidents occurred at CzipLee in Kajang resulting in repeated losses of business and stocks.
- 2016 (Fire): A blazing fire broke out at CzipLee Bangsar, which resulted in the neighbourhood community and firefighters helping to put out the fire together. At the time, CzipLee contemplated either closing the business or rebuilding the store as 80% of stock and equipment were damaged.
- 2020 to 2022 (Air): Like other businesses, the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic caused a standstill for CzipLee’s in-store experiences. Though an online store has been established since 2011, the business refined its focus towards online and social media strategies.
- 2023 (Earth): CzipLee’s two-storey corner-lot landmark in the commercial neighbourhood of Telawi, Bangsar was recently sold as a way to sustain its current and upcoming business strategies.
The unforeseen incidents faced by CzipLee throughout the years have taught the family and team the importance of being resilient yet flexible when battling hardship. The word “Czip” (集) in Chinese means united gathering, which is reflected in a tightly-knit family unit. The word “Lee” (利) means vision, endurance, and strength to prosper both the family and customer.
“We had to make a crucial decision to forgo our well-known two-storey corner-lot landmark in Bangsar. It was a difficult decision to proceed with, but it was a strategic one, as CzipLee needed to improve its gearing to move forward. We are also thankful for the support received from our family, team and community as we continue our journey in meeting the needs of our customers,” said Alvin Chen, Executive Director of CzipLee.
Post-pandemic, sales had not returned to the original pre-pandemic levels, and consumer patterns had also shifted. Many now sought chain stores for local stationery, and with the increased difficulty in parking in Bangsar, it was pivotal for the brand to revamp its strategies to survive.
The Redirection of CzipLee
With this redirection, CzipLee took the time to invest and strategise a whole new concept for the newly renovated CzipPlus outlet by CzipLee in Bangsar.
No longer bound by physical locations, CzipLee has now pivoted to concept stores and pop-ups. Each of these stores offer a distinctive selection of stationery, art supplies and lifestyle products.
CzipLee’s stores range from CzipLee Southkey featuring fine writing, journaling and seasonal workshops based in Johor. CzipPetit, which is located in Bangsar Village 2, features a little bit of everything from general stationeries, curated books to journaling materials.
Its newest concept store along Jalan Telawi, CzipPlus is the highlight and cherry on the cake, with its curated selection of writing tools, ink products, fine arts as well as printing services. CzipLee also has a pop-up at Jippuri, Pavilion Bukit Jalil featuring exclusive Japanese stationery.
Steadfast in keeping its legacy, CzipLee has preserved its original CzipLee in Kajang, which features general stationeries and schoolbooks. This outlet is currently managed by cousins of the Chen family.
Moving Ahead This 2023
In the fourth quarter of 2023, CzipLee plans to further expand to meet the demands and needs of customers. CzipLee is set to have its customers indulge in an expanded CzipPetit experience in Bangsar Village 2. Taking up three times from the current size, customers can look forward to experiencing a full-fledged concept store which will house an extensive selection of brands and products.
“Many customers miss the experience of a full fledged store, which is why we will be bringing back the range and more into an expanded CzipPetit,” added Jason Chen, Executive Director of CzipLee.
Additionally, CzipLee also plans to return to its core of books and stationery with a new concept bookstore. They are currently working with like-minded book enthusiasts and partners to create a unique experience that will highlight children, non-fiction, coffee table books as well as signature stationeries and a potential play area for kids. There are ongoing discussions to have a thematic cafe for patrons to unwind with a book, and have a chillout moment while the kids are occupied.
CzipLee is also bringing back their events and workshops, amidst a more intimate setting at CzipPlus.
“We just hosted acclaimed local and international artist and author, Red Hong Yi as she shared her new book. In a cosy environment, new friends and relationships are forged. Community comes together which is a key part of why we continue to do what we do,” added Jason.
Supercharge your business with a banking app that’s simpler, smarter & more secure at your fingertips with Maybank2u Biz App. Download it on App Store & Play Store today. Learn More