How last-minute Christmas shoppers can dodge the Hong Kong crowds
Whether it’s local online stores, crafty pop-ups, or the quieter back streets, here’s our hassle-free guide to last-minute Christmas shopping
If there’s one aspect of the Christmas build-up that can cause dread, panic and stress in equal measure, it’s gift buying. In an already crowded city, who wants to face the throngs when trying to race around grabbing last-minute presents? So, in the shopper’s paradise that is Hong Kong, let’s not forget the crafty pop-ups, unique boutiques tucked away in back streets and alternative concept stores a safe distance from the Christmas crush.
Hit those quiet spots in Central
You will want to avoid the obvious areas in the days leading up to the 25th, but there are some streets in Central that are quieter – and many of them happen to be dotted with great independent gift shops.
Stocking both vintage and new products, General Store on Gage Street offers a fine range of items to suit almost any budget. Smaller pieces include jewellery, accessories and candles as well as more masculine items such as sturdy metal stationery. Many of the larger items are vintage pieces, all of which come from Japan, such as a bijou pendulum wall clock.
Just across Aberdeen Street from there, Gough Street is peppered with gift stores, which have similar themes but quite different offerings. Here too you can find something for everyone. Stores such as Homeless (renamed Hohohomeless for the season) are ideal for stocking fillers and funky Christmas decorations.
Lovers & Friends offer bags and shoes for tween, teens and those who are older but still cool, while Madura offers bags and cushions, some of which might appeal to those wanting a more classic style.
There’s also Petit Bazaar, which is just for kids; Sheer, for lingerie if you’re looking for a romantic Christmas gift, and WOAW, a concept store packed with items such as mugs, phone covers and other gadgets from around the world. Refuel with a coffee at Elephant Grounds at the back of WOAW, or if you have the kids with you, drop by the recently opened Oddies ice cream parlour on Gough Street.
If you still have the energy to keep going, move along to Tai Ping Shan Street where a few fashion, homewares and lifestyle shops dot less crowded pavements.
Sham Shui Po has seen its share of attempted revitalisation by independent Hong Kong designers, and while not all have gone the distance, one is flourishing. Concept store 22 Degrees North stocks items from both Hong Kong and overseas designers, including leather and canvas bags and purses, hats and other fashionable accessories. The space takes up three storeys, offering a meet-up and hangout area for young creative types and a space for exhibitions and gigs.
Tucked away inside an apartment (Flat D, 5/F Wai Hong Building, 239 Cheung Sha Wan Road) in Sham Shui Po, you’ll find Paul Au Tak-shing, a man who loves vinyl records so much that he collects and preserves them, especially those headed for the scrapheap. And he won’t charge ridiculous prices either. If you’re shopping for the vinyl junkie in your life, throw in a copy of Andrew Guthrie’s biography of Paul (Paul’s Records: How a Refugee from the Vietnam War Found Success Selling Records on the Streets of Kowloon) from local publisher Blacksmith Books.
Don’t even leave the house
If Sham Shui Po sounds like a trek too far for your vinyl fix, Vintage Vinyl HK operates a mail order service. Nick Langford inherited 10,000 records from a distant relative in Vancouver and shipped them to Hong Kong in order to pass them on. The collection includes some rare 78rpms and as well LPs and singles from the 1950s to the ’80s covering genres such as prog rock, disco, pop, soundtracks and everything in between. All are reasonably priced.
You’re probably cutting it fine with delivery times for international online stores, so avoid coughing up for express fees by clicking on something closer to home. The Print Market is a website that sells original prints by Hong Kong-based talent, so you’ll be supporting local and independent, graphic designers, illustrators and artists.
If you’re feeling creative, another Hong Kong start-up, Snaptee is an app-based service that lets you design and custom print your own T-shirts.
For the ultimate hassle-free shopping, spoilt.com.hk is a Hong Kong-based site dedicated to designing experiential gifts. They offer art workshops, canyoning, massages, a personal wardrobe makeover and even car racing in Zhuhai. If you’ve got a bit of cash to splash, try one of their private helicopter tours of the city, or take a spin in a professional flight simulator.
Try something crafty
The Something Old Vintage Pop-up Market (D2 Place, 9 Cheung Yee Street, Lai Chi Kok) will run daily until December 20, promising an eclectic mix of vintage and one-off pieces, from fashion to home decor and mechanical goods such cameras and watches. Away from the shopping, Something Old is presenting a range of workshops, exhibitions and events to help spread the vintage word. Highlights include a vintage motorcycle showcase by Angry Lane, December 16 to 20, and a watchmaking workshop by Andre Jouve Horloge on December 18.