Sustainable Future, Hong Kong Tales
Issue: #004 - 18 March 2013
The Diarist's Note

 

This month, we bring you two business stories. We’ll visit Ah Wing and his vintage store in Wan Chai before we cross over to Central to speak Surdham in his second-hand bookshop.  Both men run their business with Hong Kong’s sustainability in their mind.    

Ah Wing (affectionate short for his real name, Fung Wing-kuen) has been running his vintage store for nine years.  From old newspapers and clocks through evocative toys to granny handbags and rotary telephones, you name it, he has it. He opened a new outlet in Kwun Tong recently for the larger pieces, mainly furniture, that are building up in his vast vintage collection. The very existence of his business relies on Hong Kong’s obsession with bulldozing buildings. I asked him if he’s selling second-hand goods, or antiques. “It’s a matter of your perspective”, he replied.      

Surdham’s real name is Lam Sum.  Lam adopted a Sanskrit name Surdham Amano after learning meditation in India in 1996.  He started his second-hand book business shortly before the city’s transition of sovereignty in July 1997.  He also sells second-hand CDs and DVDs.  Over the years, his business has weathered repeated rent hikes and ‘displacement’ caused by urban development.  The latest challenge to his business comes from digital books and internet music and film downloads.  It’s too early to know whether his business can survive this challenge but he’s prepared to accept the outcome, whatever it is.   Everything Surdham does is driven by the goal to let resources flow between people and he believes there’s always a way to serve this purpose, whether it’s in the form of selling second-hand books, or something else.