Lunar New Year

Mystery bidder bags two coveted trading stalls at Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year fair for almost HK$1 million

  • Auction for 475 booths at annual Victoria Park event is attended by more than 200 bidders
PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 5:43pm
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2018, 8:49pm

An unidentified group on Monday stumped up almost HK$1 million (US$127,900) at auction to secure two of the most coveted trading stalls in Victoria Park for Hong Kong’s annual Lunar New Year fair.

The day’s single highest bid was HK$520,000 for a fast-food stall close to an entrance on Gloucester Road.

That spot went to an unnamed bidder who also snapped up one of two remaining fast-food booths at the other end of the park for HK$410,000.

A total of HK$930,000 was spent by the mystery buyer, who declined to reveal who they were or their plans for the booths.

A group representative simply said: “You will know soon.”

Some 475 stalls were auctioned off by the government’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department on Monday, with more than 200 bidders attending the event.

The fair will run over three days from January 27.

Last year the top bidder was affiliated with record store and audio products retailer HMV Hong Kong, which forked out HK$500,000 for a prime spot – the lowest amount for a top bid since 2012.

The highest bid ever recorded was in 2016 from banquet services provider ClubOne, which spent HK$820,000 on a food stall measuring just 4.8 metres by 7.6 metres. This year the same booth had a starting price at auction of HK$374,850.

Starting young in business: pupils, 14, pay HK$20,800 for stall at Hong Kong’s Lunar New Year fair

Droves of horticulturists also turned up at the event to bid for 180 wet goods stalls.

Lau Hoi-tau, a long-time grower specialising in peach blossom, said his crop had been cut by 60 per cent from damage brought by Typhoon Mangkhut in September.

“In my opinion, prices will rise by at least 50 per cent,” he said.

Peach blossom can cost up to thousands of Hong Kong dollars per plant.

Lau said he was hoping to secure 12 booths at the park in Causeway Bay, but new competition had driven up the bids.

Kevin Wong, who was representing his family business, Green Art Workshop, bagged a stall for HK$71,888.

His family has been selling plants at the Lunar New Year fair eight years in a row and have spent about HK$50,000 on booths in the past.

Hongkongers pile into the park for all the fun of the Lunar New Year fair

“I hope we can recover the cost,” Wong said.

Wong Tak-fat, a senior superintendent with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, warned that any slogans displayed at the fair advocating Hong Kong independence or self-determination for the city could end up being barred.

“We hope the markets will have a cheerful atmosphere in celebration of the Lunar New Year. Political activities should be avoided,” he said.

Some 183 wet goods and food stalls were auctioned off on Monday. On Tuesday, 284 dry goods stalls and eight thematic spaces will go under the hammer.