Ah Paul
As night falls and the crowds on Ap Liu Street gradually disperse, rich tones from a roundtable drift through the air, particularly moving when they reach our ears. Paul of Ap Liu Street says, “Vinyl records have mellow, warm human and instrument sounds, with a real feel.”
Paul loves his records as his life; each record is cleaned by dry cloth, and wrapped in a plastic cover, so that it stays “fresh” and will not get mouldy or gather a rancid smell. This middle-aged man insists on dressing up as a rock band member; his second-hand vinyl record business in Sham Shui Po has a great reputation.
In terms of quantity, he has 300,000 vinyl records, which should be larger than the collection of Radio Television Hong Kong. In terms of the variety of his collection, he has everything from mainstream to Alan Tam and Danny Chan, to heavy metal, light music and alternative music, just everything.
In the 1980s he started as a street vendor, peddling on the grounds next to the public toilet here. Then he moved to a small 600 sq. ft shop which became so packed with records eventually, that he could only sleep at night on a folding nylon bed. He says, “At first I expected to use records to source for more records, I will sell, while at the same time I will enrich my collection.”
After his efforts over the years, Paul has become the “adoptive parent” for local vinyl records; he is still adopting the “orphans” which should not be left to die. Paul says, “I cherish the records, because they still have life. But I warn my customers that they should have a commitment as collectors, because I do not want to see them getting tired and sell the records back to me. Because after passing through this shop, as the transit hub, then the next stop might be the landfill.”