Thu, Sep 12, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Sausage-vending couple sets up travel agency

By Hang Ming-tang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Lu Tsung-min and his wife, Wu Yi-li, stand in front of their tourist agency in Taitung County on Tuesday.

Photo: Huang Ming-tang, Taipei Times

Regulars at the Fugang Fishing Port north of Greater Taichung may have noticed the absence of a couple who have been selling sausages filled with flying fish roe; the couple — who were in the business for five years — have made enough money selling sausages to start their own travel agency.

The couple’s new venture, the Taitung Travel Agency in Fugang Township (富岡), functions as their office and home. While Wu Yi-li (巫宜娌) takes care of business and looks after their children, her husband, Lu Tsung-min (呂聰敏), works as a chauffeur and tour guide to their customers.

The 46-year-old Lu, born and raised in Fugang, originally worked as a foreman at a manufacturing plant, and also temporarily worked for the county government.

Looking at the crowd of people passing through the port, Lu said that he never thought that he would be able to make a big enough profit to set up a travel agency.

However, the couple’s hard work paid off and Lu said his record was making NT$50,000 (US$1,670) a day by selling sausage filled with flying fish roe, priced at NT$30 per sausage, at the port in the morning and at a night market at night.

Lu said that he bought the sausages in Yilan County and when he first started his business in 2007, they were a unique product in the wharf area, making them very popular among travelers.

As the first ships set sail around 6am, he and his wife would have set up the sausage stand before 5am, providing the first travelers with steaming hot sausages for breakfast, Lu said.

In 2010, the former Taichung County government invited Lu and other snack vendors to set up shop at the tourism night market.

Despite the hardships of having to stand at the stall for almost the entire day, baking under the sun and eyes watering from the grill smoke, Lu said the income from his sales at the tourism night market more than made up for the hardships.

In 2011, his wife had become pregnant and the increased hours on his feet — coupled with the relocation of their stall — caused Lu to vacate his spot at the night market and focus on sales at the wharf side.

It was around this time that Lu started helping travelers with their boat tickets, giving him his first peek into the tourism and travel industry.

Last year, Lu decided make a radical career shift by purchasing the travel agency — which first started business in 1999.

When asked about his main motivation, Lu laughed and said: “You can work in an air-conditioned room if you start your own company.”

However, he added that sharp competition made his new line of work an uphill struggle.

Though he closed down the sausage stand, Lu still sells frozen flying fish roe sausages, and occasionally fires up the grill on request to give a live demonstration of his salesmanship and his signature sausages.

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