小興趣拼出大事業

──雷諾瓦的拼圖世界
:::

2012 / 11月

文‧劉嫈楓 圖‧金宏澔


過去在台灣升學主義之下,「興趣不能當飯吃」常常成為老一輩人用來告誡後輩認真念書的警語。然而,對於因為喜歡拼圖,決定一頭栽進拼圖事業的雷諾瓦拼圖文化坊總經理黃麗娟而言,耗費二十多年經營,在兩岸開立近40家門市,卻已打破舊俗,證明興趣才是永續經營的最佳方式。


一想到拼圖,不少人的印象可能還停留在幼時所見,畫著動漫人物、或是帶著不知名風景的印刷作品階段。

若有機會走進5月才在中山北路巷內開張的雷諾瓦拼圖文化坊,看到牆面上掛著幾米、慕夏等海內外知名藝術家創作的拼圖作品,畫面上呈現的顏色彩度、精緻程度、橫幅直式的樣貌絕對顛覆想像。

拼圖裡的藝術感受

就讀海洋大學漁業系的雷諾瓦拼圖文化坊總經理黃麗娟原本和拼圖一點關係都沒有。說起投入拼圖事業的開始,黃麗娟笑言,「一切純屬偶然」。

二十多年前,在朋友的介紹下,她第一次接觸拼圖,當時完成的第一幅拼圖作品,是法國印象派畫家雷諾瓦的畫作《葛樂蒂磨坊》。

儘管當時自己對散落的拼圖並沒有特別感受,也不曾刻意記下畫作。但有一回她在咖啡廳用餐看著牆面畫作,躍然浮現熟悉感後,她才知道原來透過一片片拼圖反覆撿拾、拼湊的過程裡,自己早就熟記雷諾瓦畫作裡每一筆的筆觸和圖樣。

「原來藝術品是可以透過拼圖的方式留下記憶,」黃麗娟說。有了全新的詮釋與體驗之後,拼圖也深入黃麗娟的日常生活,成為凝聚家人朋友情感、分享生活的閒暇活動。

1990年,因為懷孕正思考是否轉職的她,想起拼圖每每為自己帶來的愉悅,乾脆辭去外商公司工作,選在熱鬧的師大商圈,開了第一家拼圖小店,名為雷諾瓦。

趕上拼圖熱,首年有盈餘

雖然拼圖市場看似冷僻小眾,但雷諾瓦初開張時恰巧碰上拼圖熱,周邊就有三家同類商店,加上散布在書店、路邊攤的銷售,市場規模並不如想像中的小。雷諾瓦幸運度過創業初期的虧損,第一年即達到收支平衡,出現盈餘進帳。

2008年金融危機席捲全球時,美國股神巴菲特曾說:「當大浪退去時,我們才知道誰在裸泳。」這席話同樣適用20年前的台灣拼圖市場。

當時台灣拼圖店如雨後春筍般出現,但熱潮來得快去得快,短短不到兩年,市場迅速冷卻。雷諾瓦不僅得面對客群大幅銳減,還得克服同業削價競爭。面對嚴峻現實,黃麗娟一度萌生關門念頭,但想到開店的初衷和拼圖的樂趣,她決定咬牙苦撐。

因為喜歡拼圖而開店,也因愛好拼圖,讓黃麗娟懂得照顧顧客需求。一走進雷諾瓦,面帶微笑的店員除了介紹架上商品,同時還是一位能夠解開謎團的「拼圖老師」。散落在櫃台上的拼圖圖片,就是用來教導顧客的現成教材。

黃麗娟解釋,拼圖的困難指數隨著片數、樣式而有所不同,數量越少、顏色越多、越豐富的拼圖越簡單;反之,色彩單調、對比度低、片數多的拼圖,完成難度就越高。

顧客遇難題,雷諾瓦當軍師

當客人上門時,雷諾瓦會根據個人不同的拼圖技術提供建議。一旦顧客望著相似圖片無從下手,準備放棄時,店員還得隨時充當軍師,負責獻策。此外,考量到拼圖過程,圖片常散落一地,黃麗娟還主動找上廠商,自行研發收納產品。一來一往間,四散的拼圖就在雷諾瓦和顧客的攜手合作下漸漸成形。

除了售前服務,雷諾瓦的售後服務也沒少。完成拼圖後,散落圖片轉眼成了另一幅美麗的展品,雷諾瓦還會給予顧客裱框建議,從框架花紋、搭配顏色到大小尺寸,一一提供服務。而這也讓雷諾瓦和顧客的互動關係,不像其他商店,在賣出商品的那一刻終止。

雷諾瓦始終維持賣出商品,不忘奉上服務的經營理念。2002年拓展連鎖體系後,服務人員培訓自然成為經營上最重要的一環。

黃麗娟透露,雷諾瓦員工至少要經過2個禮拜至一個月的培訓,店員不僅得背下店面產品的擺放位置,對於每個產品的故事背景、設計者更要瞭若指掌。「說出故事是很重要的事,」黃麗娟說。

網路力量擦亮招牌

默默耕耘拼圖市場10年,雷諾瓦始終立於熱鬧的師大商圈一隅。直到2000年前後席捲全球的網路熱潮,又把雷諾瓦帶往另一個階段。

透過虛擬網路力量,雷諾瓦多年累積下的好口碑快速傳遞,拼圖招牌越擦越亮。2002年,雷諾瓦從黃麗娟手裡的興趣小店搖身一變成為「興趣事業」。這一年,雷諾瓦邁向連鎖體系的第一步,不但踏出創始地師大商圈進駐敦南誠品,同時銷售品項也有了突破。

事實上,台灣早年拼圖市場,是以小型拼圖為主,客群主要鎖定在兒童市場。1980年代,德日等國印製精美的拼圖大量進口台灣後,才漸漸受到成人市場歡迎,引起風潮,並在1990年代達到巔峰。只是,環顧當時市面銷售的拼圖商品,多半還是以日系拼圖為主。

有一回,顧客拿著完成的拼圖來到雷諾瓦要求裱框時,黃麗娟對有別市面上的畫風、圖樣的產品感到好奇。一問之下,她才知道是客人遠從歐洲帶回來的拼圖。

「這位客人一定非常熱愛拼圖,否則不會在行李箱裡塞著體積這麼大的拼圖。看到他帶回來的產品,開啟了我們的眼界,也促成雷諾瓦引進歐系產品的開始。」

區隔市場引進歐系產品

為了找到區隔化市場,黃麗娟主動接觸歐系拼圖品牌EDUCA、HEYE、JUMBO洽談台灣代理權,並調整店面中日系、歐系產品的比重。隨著連鎖門市拓展,雷諾瓦一步步減少架上日系拼圖,最後走向全面銷售歐系拼圖的模式。對於早已受到日本文化滲透的台灣市場而言,雷諾瓦率先引入歐系拼圖的作法也耗費大量精力。

對照日系動漫、插畫拼圖的直白風格,歐系的拼圖產品帶有更多細節,若不加說明,客人根本不懂其中的趣味和創意。因此初期引入歐系商品時,雷諾瓦得花上更大的力氣銷售,但這也讓雷諾瓦創造出一條屬於自己風格的銷售道路。

代理歐系拼圖品牌3年後,2005年黃麗娟把眼光轉向台灣本土,尋找具有台灣文化特色的插畫家、藝術作品,洽談授權生產。這回,誘發黃麗娟思考銷售授權拼圖的人,同樣又是雷諾瓦的顧客。

座落師大商圈的雷諾瓦,不時有外籍顧客上門詢問,是否有拼圖足以代表台灣文化特色,能夠送給家鄉親友。外籍顧客的需求,讓黃麗娟發現了這片未有人開發的藍海市場。

至此,雷諾瓦再次轉型,由代理業務跨入授權生產行列。雷諾瓦爭取到知名插畫家幾米的創作授權,並先後獲得畫家劉其偉、漫畫家彎彎與故宮典藏的《清明上河圖》等畫作授權。

目前,雷諾瓦店裡除了歐洲三大代理品牌,授權自製的拼圖產品仍是店內品項大宗,圖片數量從最少的24片到拼成足足有牆面大小的2萬4,000片,售價也從幾百元到兩、三千元不等。

由於雷諾瓦堅持取得授權,加上授權期限往往只有3至5年,到期又得重新洽談,使得授權費用成為營運的最大成本。

掌管授權業務的雷諾瓦行銷企劃副理李姿慧表示,儘管坊間充斥盜版產品,但取得授權是對創作者的尊重,也是長久經營的唯一方式。而現在以雷諾瓦的大型店而言,每個月可以吸引到近500人上門消費。

經過二十多年的經營,黃麗娟抓住小眾市場的大熱情,一步步在北中南區開立連鎖門市。目前,台灣有25家據點,除了台北2家、台中1家直營店外,雷諾瓦也進駐誠品書店等百貨通路。

前進大陸拼出兩岸版圖

2007年,雷諾瓦還一舉將大陸市場「拼進」事業版圖。相較近年來台商才開始跨足服務、文創產業,雷諾瓦早已提前一步進軍大陸市場,並把第一家大陸門市選在上海浦東區消費人潮最多的百貨商場「正大廣場」。

其實一開始,黃麗娟是在上海親友的建議下,懷著試水溫的心態來此開店。但沒想到門市進駐後,她發現大陸消費者對拼圖的熟悉度遠遠超過原先想像,市場反應也比預期熱烈。

不同於二十多年前,拼圖店剛出現在台灣市面時,有上門顧客劈頭詢問:「你們這家店是在賣什麼的?」地點一換到大陸,來訪客人卻是大方出手買下5,000片的高難度拼圖。

於是,5年內雷諾瓦的門市不但在上海開出分店,甚至進駐北京一級戰區王府井商圈。現在,雷諾瓦在上海、北京兩地共有12家門市。

儘管黃麗娟積極布局大陸市場,但雷諾瓦從創始以來,早已在台灣打下研發、設計基礎,因此就算不少企業紛紛看中成本優勢轉往大陸設點時,雷諾瓦依舊將研發、設計、生產三大重心留在台灣。

從缺角不全的圖片,看到一幅美麗的風景,黃麗娟用雷諾瓦寫下成功事業的新定義,而由一家小小拼圖店,延伸為代理、授權、生產上下游整合的經營模式,也為近來尋求突破的台灣文創界,立下一個足以借鑑的新典範。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

Putting the Pieces Together—Renoir Co. Builds a Puzzling Business

Liu Yingfeng /photos courtesy of Chin Hung-hao /tr. by Scott Williams

There was a time when Taiwanese parents used to harp on the importance of advancing through the educational system and warn young people that “hobbies don’t put rice on the table.” Jigsaw puzzle maven Huang Li-chuan chose to ignore such admonitions and throw herself into the puzzle business. After more than 20 years in the business, the success of her Renoir Company, which has nearly 40 shops in Taiwan and mainland China, provides a striking counterexample to the old conventional wisdom. Her experience strongly suggests that pursuing your own interests is the best way to create a long-lived business.


For most people, jigsaw puzzles bring to mind childhood: images of cartoon and comic book characters, and prints of unknown landscapes.

But shoppers entering a Renoir shop encounter jigsaw puzzles with images by the likes of Taiwan’s own Jimmy or Anton Mu­cha, puzzles of such vibrant color and fine detail that they rewrite shoppers’ definitions of a “jigsaw puzzle.”

The art of jigsaws

Huang Li-chuan, the founder and president of Renoir Co., is actually a graduate of the Fisheries Science Department of National Taiwan Ocean University who didn’t encounter jigsaw puzzles until already an adult. Speaking on how she came to be in the business, she laughs, “It was completely by chance.”

A friend first introduced her to jigsaw puzzles 20-some years ago with a puzzle that recreated the French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Le Moulin de la Galette.

She thought the puzzle and painting had made little impression on her, but they came back to her when she recognized a reproduction on the wall of a coffee shop. She realized then that the act of assembling the puzzle had imprinted every brushstroke and figure of Renoir’s original in her mind.

“I learned that you can remember artworks from being exposed to them as jigsaw puzzles,” she says. She began immersing herself in jigsaws, which became a way to share leisure time with family and friends.

Pregnant and considering a career change in 1990, she recalled the pleasure she’d gotten from jigsaws. She quit her job with a foreign firm and opened a little puzzle shop called “Renoir” in the bustling commercial district next to National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU).

Perfect timing

At the time, she thought jigsaw puzzles were nothing more than an obscure niche market, but the opening of Renoir happened to coincide with a wave of enthusiasm for the pastime. The three similar shops near hers and the puzzles carried by bookstores and street vendors soon made it clear that the market wasn’t as small as she’d imagined. Renoir not only survived its early losses, it prospered, booking profits in its first year in business.

US investor Warren Buffet famously said of the 2008 financial crisis: “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Much the same could be said of Taiwan’s jigsaw puzzle market of 20 years ago, when puzzle shops were popping up everywhere.

Such fads tend to come and go very quickly, and this one was no different. Within two years, the market had gone cold. Renoir saw its clientele shrink just at the moment when it was contending with cutthroat pricing from its competitors. Huang considered closing, but when she recalled why she’d opened the shop in the first place, she decided to gut it out.

Huang’s own love of puzzles gives her a better grasp of how to help her customers. The moment you enter one of her shops, a smiling clerk shows you around the inventory on the shelves and walks you through the mysteries of jigsaws. The shops even keep a disassembled puzzle on the counter to provide customers with a little bit of hands-on training.

Personalized service

When customers come in, Renoir uses this puzzle to evaluate their level of skill and offer personalized recommendations. If a customer looks at two similar puzzle pieces and doesn’t know what to do, a clerk steps in to offer strategic advice. All too familiar with the inconvenience of having pieces fall on the floor while working on a puzzle, Huang has even designed a product that keeps pieces on the table and had it custom built. Working together, customer and clerk slowly assemble the puzzle.

Renoir also provides extensive post-sale service. Once a customer completes a puzzle, Renoir offers advice on framing, covering everything from frame sizes to patterns and colors. Such touches make Renoir’s interactions with its customers very different from those of most shops, for whom the relationship ends with the sale.

Burnishing the brand online

Huang toiled quietly at Renoir’s original location near NTNU for 10 years before propelling the business into a new era by expanding it online sometime around the year 2000.

The power of the Internet quickly spread Renoir’s excellent reputation, further burnishing its brand. In 2002, the little shop that Huang had opened to pursue her own interests transformed into a full-fledged “interest-driven enterprise.” In that year, Renoir took its first steps to becoming a chain, opening an outlet in the Dun­hua South Road Es­lite bookstore and expanding its product line.

Taiwan’s jigsaw puzzle market originally consisted largely of small puzzles targeted at children. Adult interest began to grow when retailers started importing larger, more finely printed puzzles from Germany and Japan in the 1980s. When adult interest peaked in the 1990s, most of the puzzles being sold were still made in Japan.

Then a customer brought Renoir a completed puzzle for framing. The puzzle’s style and imagery were so different from those available on the Taiwan market that Huang got curious about its origin. When she asked about it, she learned that the customer had bought the puzzle in Europe.

Product differentiation

Seeking to distinguish herself from the broader market, Huang negotiated agency arrangements with the European brands ­Educa, ­Heye and Jumbo, and increased the percentage of European puzzles in her catalogue. As she opened more shops, she gradually reduced the number of Japanese puzzles they carried, eventually turning Renoir into a retailer of exclusively European puzzles. Making such a switch in a Taiwanese market saturated with Japanese puzzles turned out to be more difficult than she’d anticipated.

European puzzles tend to be more finely detailed than the comics, cartoons, and illustrations featured on Japanese puzzles. Taiwanese customers needed a bit of introduction and explanation to appreciate the creativity and cleverness of the former. As a result, Renoir had to work harder to make sales when it moved into European puzzles and ended up developing its own style of retailing.

In 2005, after three years as an agent for European puzzle makers, Huang set her sights on going local and began negotiating for licenses on the works of Taiwanese artists and illustrators. As before, the impetus for the change was a Renoir customer.

Renoir’s original location in the NTNU commercial district attracted many foreign customers wondering whether the shop carried any jigsaw puzzles with a “Taiwanese” flavor, the kind they could give to friends and family back home. Huang soon realized that here was another market niche waiting to be filled.

So she once again transformed Renoir, extending its business into licensing and producing puzzles. Renoir acquired rights to works by the well known illustrator Jimmy, as well as others by painter Max Liu, comic-book artist Wan Wan, and even the painting Along the River During the Qing­ming Festival from the National Palace Museum’s collection.

Nowadays, Renoir shops carry puzzles made with licensed images in addition to those made by the three major European brands. The Taiwanese puzzles range in size from 24 pieces up to a wall-sized 24,000 pieces at prices from a few hundred NT dollars up to NT$2,000 or NT$3,000.

Renoir’s determined pursuit of licenses and the cost of renewing them every three to five years have made them the company’s heftiest expense.

Ivy Lee, Renoir’s deputy manager of marketing and planning, says that even though the market is full of unlicensed puzzles, Renoir sees licensing both as a means of showing respect to artists and the only way to prosper over the long term.

In business for more than 20 years, Huang grasps just how vibrant niche markets are and has gradually extended her company’s reach, expanding from northern Taiwan into the middle and southern parts of the island. She currently has 25 outlets around Taiwan, including two shops in Tai­pei, one in Tai­chung, and counters in larger retail establishments such as Es­lite Books.

Moving into mainland China

Renoir “pieced” the mainland Chinese market into its business plans in 2007, earlier than most other Taiwanese service-oriented and creative-cultural enterprises. And the company went big from the outset, opening its first mainland shop in the bustling Super Brand Mall in Shang­hai’s Pu­dong area.

Huang says that a suggestion from a friend who lives in Shang­­hai prompted her to give it a shot. She originally planned only to test the waters, but she soon discovered that mainland consumers were far more familiar with jigsaw puzzles than she had realized. They also responded to Renoir far more enthusiastically than she had expected.

When she opened her first store in Taiwan, jigsaw puzzles were still relatively new here and customers would often ask what exactly her shop sold. She found a very different situation in the mainland, where she immediately had customers spending big money on difficult 5,000-piece puzzles.

In the five years since Renoir set up shop in Pu­dong, it has established several other Shang­hai branches, and even opened a store in Bei­jing’s upscale Wang­fu­jing commercial district. In fact, the company now has 12 outlets in Shang­hai and Bei­jing.

Even with its expansion into mainland China, Renoir has kept its R&D and design work in Taiwan. And while many other firms are busily establishing facilities in the mainland to take advantage of its low costs, Renoir plans to stay firmly rooted here in Taiwan.

Huang is capable of seeing the beauty of the whole in a partially assembled picture, and has, through Renoir, redefined what it means to be a successful business. Her achievement in growing a single small shop into a retail empire that licenses content, acts as a local agent, and has integrated its entire upstream and downstream production chain provides other Taiwanese creative and cultural ventures with a blueprint to success.

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!