Boot Alley in Bell Tower Street [Photo/Taiyuan Evening News]

Boot Alley, the oldest alley on the north side of Shipin Street in Bell Tower Street, a famous commercial area in Taiyuan, is named after the many shops that made and sold boots in the past.

Among the buildings in Boot Alley, the former site of Shuyecheng is the most famous. The some 300-square-meter building is a combination of Chinese and Western architectural styles, which is rare in traditional Chinese courtyards. 

It is a bookstore and residence established in 1915 by Qu Renfu (1880-1963) who came from the Qu family of Qixian county, a prominent merchant in Shanxi. 

Qu was a patriotic businessman who was enthusiastic about education and public welfare, and promoted traditional culture. 

In the past, people enjoyed buying stationery in Shuyecheng, which sold goods of high quality at fair prices.

Honesty is the foundation of Shuyecheng, which also reflects the integrity-based business sprit of Shanxi merchants, and has been passed down for generations.