Local Business Profiles
OK Tailor Shop
Tuesday, February 28th 2012
Made To Measure
By HARLEY RICHARD
Advocate business editor
Seated across from an official with the Canadian embassy in Hong Kong, Kwan Tong knew his application for immigration could go either way.
Speaking through an interpreter, the bureaucrat quizzed Tong about his desire to make Canada his home, the contributions he expected to make here, and why he wanted to work as a cook — despite having spent the previous decade as a tailor.
Tong didn’t confess that he had simply taken a cooking course to improve his chances of admission.
“At that time, tailoring was not that popular,” the owner of Red Deer’s OK Tailor Shop explained three decades later. “Cooks were in high demand.”
Was the official fooled?
“He looked at me with a little bit of a smile, and he just folded his hands,” recalled Tong.
“He said, ‘OK, the interview is done. I will let you know if we accept or not accept.’”
About a week later, the much-anticipated letter arrived and Tong and his wife Yuk were on their way to Red Deer. He went to work at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, where owner John Konopaki made a wry observation about his new hire’s tailoring skills.
“The chicken doesn’t need any clothing,” Tong remembers his boss telling him.