Queen Charlotte storeowner to take first real holiday in almost 20 years

  • Jun. 5, 2009 8:00 a.m.

By Alex Rawlings–The Queen Charlotte storeowner who has taken hard work to its ultimate level has a big surprise for customers this July. Cham Man Leung, locally called Sam Leung, of Sam and Shirley’s Grocery Ltd. in Queen Charlotte’s west end, has only taken 9 days off in since 1990, but this year he’s closing the store for the entire month of July and going to Hong Kong to visit his three daughters.Yes, for one whole month the store that’s been open 7 days a week from 8 am to 11 pm, or longer, for 19 years, will be locked up and empty from June 28 to August 1, as Sam and his wife Shirley head off island.”I arrived in the Charlottes on August 15, 1990, and opened the store on September 1,” Mr. Leung told us, “we have been open for business 7 days a week for 15 hours a day since then.”Sam and Shirley opened the small store, originally meant to be an auto body shop, two weeks after their arrival here despite the fact that, “nobody in the family spoke English, our eldest daughter Angel went to school and learned it, and then she began to open the store and work with us after school at the age of 12, she really helped us,” Sau Lan Leung, known as Shirley said.”I have had more vacations than Sam, and I am very excited to have a holiday with him for the first time in 20 years,” she said, “I have not been back to Hong Kong for 16 years, I want to move back there, but Sam doesn’t.” she said, adding that Sam enjoys his successful business here too much to leave it.”I have taken my lessons from a Hong Kong businessman that works hard and doesn’t spend his money, he works every day, and even though he is in his seventies he doesn’t want to retire, because he is successful,” said Mr. Leung, “that’s how I feel here.” But his desire to work hard has not trumped his desire to see his daughters now ages 31, 28 and 26.”I am excited to see my three daughters, but I worry about the store. The last time we closed for a few days at Christmas someone tried to break in,” he said, adding, “I will really miss my customers, but we will open again”. That from the man who arguably has worked 105 hours a week for the last nineteen years, which totals an incredible 103,740 hours. A more normal 40 hour week, by contrast, is a mere 39,520 hours after 19 years.Cham Man Leung. A month off after 19 years. Have a good holiday, Sam and Shirley!

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