This week, we head on a toy shopping trip down Tai Yuen Street, Wan Chai. If you missed our last field trip we were cycling in Mui Wo on Lantau Island.
If, like me, you have a small person at home, the chances are that you also have a home stuffed full of brightly-coloured toys, games and various nick-nacks ruining your tasteful and carefully-considered décor. The chances are also that you accumulate this at a staggering rate, laying waste to your bank account and your available storage space in equal measures.
Now I can’t advise you on how best to organise that toy box, but if the never-ending clamour for new toys gets you taking the long way round Toys-R-Us, then I can highly recommend a stroll down Tai Yuen Street Market in Wan Chai.
Hits: This is pocket-money-friendly toy shopping at its best. The first few shops on the left (with your back to Johnston Road) are toy shops, stocking everything and anything a child could conceivably want.
There’s dolls, etch-a-sketches, trucks, modelling clay, balls, bath toys, stationery, plastic fruit, bubbles, swim rings… the list goes on and on! The only way to see if they have what you want is to have a thorough rummage around one of these Aladdin’s caves. We spotted lots of Thomas the Tank Engine, Barbie and Disney character items, so if your little one is fixated on a particular theme right now then you can indulge their passing fad just a little without breaking the bank.
This is the ideal place to shop for little party favours, as a couple of stores sell big selection packs of cartoon characters, princesses, cars or animal figurines for around HK$100; alongside matching pencils, erasers and balloons – so fill those bags, mama!
There are also a few dad (or in our case, granddad!) -friendly diversions, with a couple of the shops carrying a range of super-retro (and super sharp!) vintage tin robots that are definitely not for the kids… thankfully these collectors’ items are safely stashed in locked cabinets away from fast little fingers.
Misses: Not the place for those big-ticket investment items – these stores pile ‘em high and sell ‘em cheap, so you’re definitely looking at quantity, not quality. But if you’re five years old and have birthday money burning a hole in your pocket, that’s surely half the fun…
It’s small: there are only a handful of toy shops within the market, although the sheer volume of stock should keep you occupied for a while.
Need to know before you go: A bit of friendly bargaining can yield good results on bulk purchases, and you can refuel just across the road at The Coffee Academics’ new outlet on Johnston Road.
How to get there: Take Exit A3 from Wan Chai MTR, then walk for around 2 minutes, or better yet, grab a tram and hop off outside The Pawn on Johnston Road.
Opening Times: Officially, 7am-7pm although some stores don’t open until 9am.