Hong Kong might certainly has many cashed up hipsters, but it doesn’t have many stores that sell good vintage vinyl. Like everything in HK, there’s stuff for the very, very rich a little for the poor and not much in between.
The average price for second hand vinyl is $100 -$120 Hong Kong Dollars about $16-$20 Australian – regardless of condition. In the hipster part of town near Square Street (Central, Hong Kong Island) one antique store was selling a copy of the Rolling Stones ‘Flowers’ records for $650 HKD (approx. $120 Australian). There were ample copies for 8 Euros available online. Tell him his dreamin’!!
Start with the good stuff.
Look for ‘Sam the Record Man’ in Hong Kong Central. He has a small shop in an unassuming building I stumbled upon literally. He has been collecting records all his life. There’s more first editions here than you can poke a stick at. His shop borders on a museum where most things are for sale. Even the Beatles master discs which he will no doubt retire very comfortably on. Better still he’ll happily play recordings of all these albums. 20 minutes in this store completely blew my mind. I couldn’t afford anything but it didn’t matter. I felt like a millionaire just being there.
What about new vinyl?
HMV in Central had a huge amount of vinyl in all genres. The cheapest starting around $180 HKD right up to around $450. Unfortunately it’s not much cheaper than at home. If anything it’s more expensive. They did seem to have a shitload of stock left over from Record Store Day though that wasn’t at a ridiculous markup. But you’re taking on average $35 to $60 Australian dollars a record. There’s some good second hand Japanese vinyl from the 70s there too. Would you believe it’s not very cheap?!
What kind of stuff can you find here?
Cantopop, middle of the road seventies and strangely a lot of sound tracks (e.g. I found Midnight Cowboy, Rambo, 2001 a Space Oddity etc). Credence Clearwater Revival may as well be considered Norwegian Black Metal here. That’s about as heavy as it gets. But then again I guess it would be hard to crank your Dimmu Borge when you live in a one bedroom apartment with your whole family in one of the most densely populated areas in the world!
OK so what good stuff did you find?
Some very, very rare HK pressings of Kiss records (tracks are no different sadly) a Taiwanese pressing of Black Sabbath’s born again and some rock records such as AC/DC in amazing condition. This store here was amazing but invading Russia would be easier than getting through this hoarder’s stock. Imagine a hoarder with an apartment full of records (I mean FULL) and no air conditioning.
Why aren’t there many records here?
I have a few theories why. It seems like all the cool American and UK vinyl was published in either Japan or Taiwan. But in the sixties and seventies there wasn’t much record distribution in Hong Kong. Well unless your were Cliff Richard or Simon and Garfunkel anyway. There was a huge Cantopop scene and there are heaps of kitschy Chinese records, but not many Western rock ones. The culture is a bit more collective back in those days and clean cut pop stars were more the go than generation gap stuff.
Secondly, no one has enough space in Hong Kong to be sentimental. In a place where a 2 bedroom apartment is a ridiculous luxury, there is nowhere to store your records. So a lot of good vintage stuff went to the tip a long time ago.
Finally I suspect that in the seventies Honkies were just working too damn hard to waste time on your Led Zeppelins and Kiss.
So in summary
It’s always a journey, not a destination sure. But if I were you spend your time in Hong Kong eating great food and buying clothes and stuff. The vinyl here is not ripe for the picking. Happy travels peeps!