Fishball King snares bargain stall at Lunar New Year Fair auction

Snack seller hopes to recoup last year's festival losses after snaring prime stall for a 'bargain'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 3:17am

The "fishball king" may be able to make up for his losses at last year's Lunar New Year Fair after securing the largest and usually most expensive stall in Victoria Park for a relative bargain.

The snack seller, known only as Mr Lau, was the only bidder and got it for the opening bid of HK$301,920 - 40 per cent less than last year and the lowest since 2008. Lau paid HK$510,000 last year after 15 bids, the highest price in 10 years.

Food and Environmental Hygiene Department senior superintendent Ho Leung-sing said competition for the three fast-food stalls - which had the highest opening prices last year - was lacklustre, which "may indicate the vendors' lack of confidence in the economy".

Lunar New Year fairs will be held from February 4 to 10 in Victoria Park and 13 other locations to welcome the Year of the Snake.

Lau said his business had lost HK$200,000 in the past year. Yet despite the price of fishballs going up 40 per cent, Lau will consider reducing the price at next year's fair - down from HK$9 for six last year - thanks to the surprise discount on the stall.

It also meant he could afford to pick up a second stall for a mere HK$220,000.

Ho said the price he paid was fair because the opening bid was based on the increase in the consumer price index.

Flowers will be more expensive because vendors who source supplies from the mainland will be hit by the rising value of the yuan.

Li Kai-ho has been selling flowers at the fair for five years. Prices had gone up and Li would consider raising the price of a small bunch of carnations from HK$15 to HK$18.

Yeung Siu-lung, who is also known as the "orchid king" and has attended the fair for more than a decade, is unfazed by the exchange rate because his flowers are cultivated locally.

He secured 16 stalls for HK$184,150. He does not plan to raise prices and the cost of the stalls was within his expectations.

Bidding continues today at Queen Elizabeth Stadium, with 284 dry-good stalls and eight thematic stalls up for grabs.