Shanghai wig shop serving local cancer patients strives for excellence

By Du Qiongfang Source:Global Times Published: 2018/2/21 18:38:39

The wigmaker

Opposite to Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center, situated on Dong'an Road in Xuhui district, there is a special wig shop hidden within a traditional Chinese medicine pharmacy. The majority of the customers of this secret shop are cancer patients who are receiving treatment at the hospital and have suffered hair loss as a result of their chemotherapy.

Cancer patients' hair begins to fall out about two weeks after first starting chemotherapy, which compels many to have their heads totally shaved and use wigs to conceal their baldness.

Pinqin Wigs has operated on this street for nearly four years but has already gained a high reputation among cancer patients from all across China for its considerate and personalized service.

Qin Kang, originally from Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, used to be a barber before founding Pinqin Wigs.

One of his former customers had suggested he set up a wig shop near a cancer hospital.

Even today, with so many media praising Qin's "kindness of bringing dignity to the patients," he remains modest, stating that he "merely does what a businessman will do," which strives for meticulous quality and thoughtful customer service.

Sentimental attachment

In his 10-square-meter shop, there are four tables and several shelves full of wig displays. These wigs were specially designed for cancer patients and are priced between hundreds of yuan to thousands, depending on if they are partly or totally made of real human hair.

Many Pinqin Wigs customers, most of whom are women, start off with cheaper wigs but eventually select more expensive and realistic ones so that they can look and feel confident during their debilitating illness.

Besides selling wigs, the shop also provides haircuts. As Qin used to be a barber, the service is not as demanding as a hair salon; most customers request to simply have all their remaining hair shorn off.

Nevertheless, the process of shaving a female patient's head does not always go easily due to the sentimental attachment many women have to their hair.

Hair of course is important to any woman who values her appearance. Thus, many female customers can't help but burst into tears right after watching Qin shave their heads. In this regard, the barber also serves as a sort of emotional support, as he often comforts these women right in the middle of his other duties.

Qin recalls a woman from another city who had already spent 200,000 yuan ($31,549) on her cancer treatment and could not afford a 360-yuan wig. She asked for a discount. When Qin told her that the wig was being sold for nearly at cost, the woman proposed selling her own hair to him. Feeling sympathetic, Qin accepted her locks in exchange for the wig.

Psychological state

A 40-something female customer surnamed Huang comes in once a month to Pinqin Wigs to have her wig professionally washed and her own hair trimmed by Qin. She completed her chemotherapy two years ago but her hair still has not fully grown back.

"Maybe I will have to wear a wig for the rest of my life," she sighed, but nonetheless expressed her satisfaction for the shop's stellar after-sales service, particularly the free wig-washing.

While Huang's wig is being washed by a shop assistant, Qin carefully trims her hair to match the style. According to Qin, the procedure of shaving heads for cancer patients is quite different from giving an ordinary customer an ordinary haircut.

"You need to shave from the vertex of their heads, and do it gently to avoid hurting them. A cancer patient's skin is very sensitive and there might also be swelling on their scalp," Qin explained.

Compared with protecting his customers from physical injury, however, Qin is more concerned about their fragile psychological state. Many of Qin's customers are so insecure about their appearance that they never reveal their bald heads, not even to their own husbands.

One customer surnamed Zhao was diagnosed with cancer in November 2017. The middle-aged woman, who is in her 50s, was so upset about losing her hair that she spent over 4,000 yuan on Qin's most expensive real-hair wig.

Zhao wears the pricey wig by day and changes to a cheaper version to wear while sleeping. Although Qin reminded her that wearing wigs 24-7 could cause skin rashes, she refuses to take off her wig at night to avoid her husband seeing her without it.


Qin Kang cuts hair for his customer.


Employees work at the store.


Various wigs displayed at Qin's store Photos: Du Qiongfang/GT



blog comments powered by Disqus