Author Topic: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)  (Read 5768 times)

Offline EyesWideShut

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A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« on: December 01, 2015, 04:36 »
http://www.iremember.sg/index.php/2015/11/foo-leong-record-store/

I‘m sure all of us in this forum will know Foo Leong Record store, and so do most music lovers in SG over 30 years of age. Many of us have our music memories formed at Foo Leong - how many of us here got our first CDs or even cassettes there? I recall that Foo Leong was still doing well in the late 90s and even into the very early 2000s, until napster and mp3 players took the music scene by storm. While Foo Leong’s competitors of yesteryears like Visma and Dada Records have all folded up, Auntie Wong remains deeply passionate and can’t bear to give up the business that she had painstakingly built up through the decades. It tugged my heartstrings to hear her recollect the good old days and juxtapose that with what is happening now.  Her heart wrenching recollection can be heard between the 1st and 3rd minute of the video.

Unequivocally, the advent of digital media and piracy is brutal and unsympathetic - it gives no quarter to Foo Leong and Auntie Wong. However, just like Auntie Wong, music is all about emotions and memories to me. Such emotions and memories - come from the joy of saving up my weekly pocket money, digging through CD or vinyl racks, searching for that elusive album, and remembering all these with a smile. These memories can hardly be formed with digital media or illegal downloads, which to me are cold, lifeless and forgettable.  In this age of convenience, how much are music and memories worth?

I visited Auntie Wong’s store a few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon. Gone were the glory days where CDs and cassettes were stacked shoulder high in the back areas of her shop. Auntie Wong now cuts a lonely figure sitting on an old stool at the corner of the shop, smiling at a few elderly customers flipping through a couple of dialect CDs. With old music playing in the background, the shop is a poignant reminder of the passing of time. Somewhat, the visit evoked a sense of sadness and regret in me. I have a confession to make: I was one of those who were caught up with the digital frenzy and plunged into the downward spiral of junk quality music; I was one of those who decided that hi fidelity music were no longer integral to my life; I was one of those who went down the slippery slope and gave up the physical format…..and most of all….I was one of those who valued convenience over memories and stopped buying CDs from her ten years ago. I eventually gave up music for almost ten years of my life.

However, on that fateful day, I could not muster the courage to say all that I wanted to say to her. I can only quietly hope that she will forgive me, and many of us out there.


As for me, I made my comeback into music in 2014 after a hiatus. It is, however, not without regret that the inexorable march of technology has bereft me of the beautiful music memories and emotions that I could have otherwise enjoyed in the last ten years. I do not know how many more “ten years” that I’d have in this lifetime, but I can only say that from now on, I will deeply cherish every single piece of CD, or vinyl, that I pick up. 

What are your music memories?
« Last Edit: December 01, 2015, 04:38 by EyesWideShut »

Offline engjoo

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2015, 05:33 »
Yes feeling sad watching this video too.

I regularly get my CDs from her stall in the early 90s and some of them have become highly collectible) Did I see in one part of the video that she is holding an LP ? I hope this recent LP revival of some sort will help her enjoy the last leg of her business better.

Offline Musicalitea

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2015, 10:08 »
Please help to support Foo Leong Record Store- drop by if you are lunching in Maxwell hawker centre or Chinatown complex especially the fish slice beehoon & many others.

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Offline dXter

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2015, 10:12 »
I bought many cassettes and also bootleg pearl jam cds from her store back in 90s. :D

Offline LMN

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2015, 11:20 »
I visited the shop in Pagada Street very often in the early days, their prices are always cheaper by about 20%.  The video did not show her dancing happily alone with the old song in front of the stall when no customers around.

Offline westendboy

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2015, 11:56 »
One of my fave music haunts in the 80s and early 90s. Picked up so many great music in the days.

This is the place I bought Tracy Chapman debut on cassette. On the same day I bought the tape is also the day I had my first breakup. I penned a final letter listening to Chapman's Baby, Can I Hold You on repeat.

Last year I was there very early and I had the privilege to help Aunty opened shop.
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Offline Mackie

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2015, 11:57 »
I still visit her shop monthly looking for Chinese Audiophile Rainforest cds.  My first visit was during Army days and first purchase was Anzhenchitai cassettes.

Offline tachi

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #7 on: December 01, 2015, 12:06 »
2 thumbs up for the video on Foo Leong record store. I made it a point to visit the store, whenever, I return to S'pore.

Offline studioaux

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2015, 12:18 »
My friend knows her son and some years back we help to replace a tweeter of the Chario speakers in their shop.

Offline Hanzo

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2015, 12:29 »
I bought most of my Metallica bootleg from them. The KTS - kiss the stone label type and some  other Nirvana, Iron Maiden cd from them during the 90,s. And always talking to Alvin about if got new Metallica bootleg remember to call me even if the cd songs are repeateded one. I stil remember the days from record and cassette to Cd.

Offline silencer13

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2015, 12:29 »
Yup, fond memories of Foo Leong. Always went there during my Poly days for the cheap CDs and cassettes.
I bought my very first CD from them - Belinda Carlisle's La Luna 3" single. Still a treasured item in my collection.

Offline EyesWideShut

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2015, 23:56 »
One of my fave music haunts in the 80s and early 90s. Picked up so many great music in the days.

This is the place I bought Tracy Chapman debut on cassette. On the same day I bought the tape is also the day I had my first breakup. I penned a final letter listening to Chapman's Baby, Can I Hold You on repeat.

Last year I was there very early and I had the privilege to help Aunty opened shop.

Nice little story you have there...we can all be sentimental without afraid of being awkwardly maudlin. Songs help to mark those important events and milestones in our lives.... Noted that it is manually intensive to put a cassette tape on repeat (as compared to the digital buttons we have now).....And yes..that is a great song (and if you happen to have the vinyl now, it's a rare collection!)

Appreciate everyone for the inputs and tks for supporting the thread...let's keep the music alive...Feel free to continue share more of your thoughts.

Offline Octave

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #12 on: December 02, 2015, 02:20 »
I stayed in Chinatown for 30 years My whole family bought LPs, cassettes and CD from her shop. My first CD also bought from her shop, my sister and the daughter of tai sun medical hall know her son so they always ask them to reserve or order for them those special Japanese collection cassettes.
The Aquarium shop at level 2 Wong Lok Kee and the stationary shop hai lok at level 1 left many good memory there during my childhood days.

Offline yongkg

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #13 on: December 02, 2015, 06:51 »
My fond memory of my musical journey in the 70s which started at her shop in Chinatown roadside stall where the shop was then manned by her hubby and their son, Alvin, was very young and sometimes was helping out at the shop.
I still had those 1st pressed cds bought there and now it is worth much more which I will never part and will be a part of my humble musical journey / life ... (hahaha)
Note : At times, I do patronize her shop but it is very heart-touching that she is now manning her shop alone and Alvin will be there when he is not working

Offline cable-guy

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2015, 11:20 »
Yes, my blessings to have got to know this family and fixing their speakers, passing them used disc players, throwing them ideas to improve the business...

A significant portion of my family's music collection came from them and I am sure many can relate to that too. I got hundreds of cassettes and hundreds of CDs from this shop over these past 30-something years. As much as I love to support them and as a retail source for my music hobby, I had to be brutally honest to share with them about the sunset CD market quite a number of years ago over several occasions.

I am thankful that a couple of us managed to journey with the family and also finally got Alvin into the workforce to branch into doing his own thing. Its still a rocky road ahead but the change is inevitable.

Meanwhile, please do pop by to see if there is anything you can buy...and just buy and bless another friend/relative in the process even if you are not looking for it yourself...although I wouldn't recommend stressing them by ordering stuff from them unless they absolutely want to take your order. This business is based on buy and sell...so if the stock is stuck, then its inventory they can't get rid of. Don't complain on their lack of variety please... :-X

I haven't seen Aunty in a long while although I will see Alvin every now and then.

I rarely say this as I don't always enjoy being spammed on email/social media...but pass the video link around please. Thanks for sharing this.

Offline domho8

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2015, 11:41 »
Tks for the video eyeswideshut. I went thru the entire video and it brought fond memories. I gotten a few CDs fr there thou.
Next time when i go there makan will go there check out CDs.

Offline ianlee

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #16 on: February 17, 2016, 11:45 »
Tks for the video eyeswideshut. I went thru the entire video and it brought fond memories. I gotten a few CDs fr there thou.
Next time when i go there makan will go there check out CDs.

Thank you eyeswideshut for informing me again of Foo Leong yesterday...
Yes, I will bring my parents there as well soon to browse through her vinyl records section.
Thank you brother.


Offline bberry

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #17 on: February 17, 2016, 19:46 »
some 2 years back one morning, i helped her open her stall  ;D

Offline EyesWideShut

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2018, 22:35 »
https://mothership.sg/2018/11/foo-leong-records-chinatown-lose-money-cannot-survive/

Been almost 3 years since we spoke of Foo Leong in this thread. Incidentally, Mothership reported that Mdm Wong has been losing 1k a month for the last 3 years.

Anyone read the article ?

Offline cable-guy

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2018, 23:34 »
https://mothership.sg/2018/11/foo-leong-records-chinatown-lose-money-cannot-survive/

Been almost 3 years since we spoke of Foo Leong in this thread. Incidentally, Mothership reported that Mdm Wong has been losing 1k a month for the last 3 years.

Anyone read the article ?
Thanks for passing this along, Bro. Incidentally, I just tried to make an impromptu visit to the store yesterday afternoon but the store along with over 90% of the complex's stores are all closed at 3pm in the afternoon?!?

I will try to get in touch with Alvin as well. Its been a long time.


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Offline EyesWideShut

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #20 on: November 29, 2018, 02:02 »
Thanks for passing this along, Bro. Incidentally, I just tried to make an impromptu visit to the store yesterday afternoon but the store along with over 90% of the complex's stores are all closed at 3pm in the afternoon?!?

I will try to get in touch with Alvin as well. Its been a long time.


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Good to hear that bro. Do let us know how they are getting along if convenient. I haven't passed by there for some time too. Aunty's passion for music and the business is truly admirable.

Offline cable-guy

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #21 on: November 29, 2018, 09:31 »
Good to hear that bro. Do let us know how they are getting along if convenient. I haven't passed by there for some time too. Aunty's passion for music and the business is truly admirable.
I just spoke with Alvin on the phone with Aunty in the background. They are both doing fine. Alvin is at a new employment in recent month and adjusting well. The complex was closed for cleaning last Mon and Tue. Hence I met a closed store...ha ha.

Aunty is still running the shop and if you guys have some Asian CDs to pick up or from their existing inventory, please make your way there. Pass the word around.

The store is reduced to one unit and don't think its open for long hours like yesteryears so best to go during the day.

Aunty is probably challenged to change het routine of 50 years but its probably good for her to slowly explore new activities and social circles.

See you guys there. Cheers.

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Offline YANG

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #22 on: November 29, 2018, 09:57 »
If they keep up with the... Vinyl records trend, perhaps sales may pickup?
But then around that area...
https://hifishop.retrophonic.sg/
...with this around been a while, most new comers may not know that FOOKLEONG sells records...

Offline EyesWideShut

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2018, 23:29 »
If they keep up with the... Vinyl records trend, perhaps sales may pickup?
But then around that area...
https://hifishop.retrophonic.sg/
...with this around been a while, most new comers may not know that FOOKLEONG sells records...

Ironically, Foo Leong started records way before them.

Yea, focusing on records (probably not just Asian records, but also English to cater to the young hipster crowd) and perhaps some digital gadgets would be one way to revamp the business. I think it is not so easy as compared to a few years ago, as there are now many hipster record shops that have jumped on the bandwagon. However, it could still be done but it requires efforts and probably the younger generation to guide or take over the business.

As the days go by, less and less people are into the audio game. Sadly, I have also felt the dwindling amount of activity in this forum. How would we expect Foo Leong to survive well if this goes on.

Offline cable-guy

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2018, 23:57 »
Ironically, Foo Leong started records way before them.

Yea, focusing on records (probably not just Asian records, but also English to cater to the young hipster crowd) and perhaps some digital gadgets would be one way to revamp the business. I think it is not so easy as compared to a few years ago, as there are now many hipster record shops that have jumped on the bandwagon. However, it could still be done but it requires efforts and probably the younger generation to guide or take over the business.

As the days go by, less and less people are into the audio game. Sadly, I have also felt the dwindling amount of activity in this forum. How would we expect Foo Leong to survive well if this goes on.
I really hate to say this but considering all the challenges for them in the last 10 years or longer, both from a personal as well as commercial perspective, it is best that business be wound up sooner rather than later.

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Offline EyesWideShut

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2018, 00:03 »
I really hate to say this but considering all the challenges for them in the last 10 years or longer, both from a personal as well as commercial perspective, it is best that business be wound up sooner rather than later.

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Offline Chowbotak

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #26 on: November 30, 2018, 07:14 »
Maybe someone here, especially those who live in Chinatown, can invite her to yr place to listen to her favorite music on yr setup? Who knows, the beautiful reproduction of the music she adored may lure her to a well deserved retirement?  ;D
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Offline titactoh

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #27 on: November 30, 2018, 08:53 »

Its laudable that many audio enthusiasts empathize with her plight for the decades of joy that they find in an inconspicuous but familiar haunt where their favourite music and song are available.

But the focus on the commercial aspect of her business may not be fully in point in at this stage.

At her age, if she is able to ease into some activities in place of running the store which can actively while away her time and be engaged meaningfully to stay healthy and happy it would be ideal.

But if we take a step back , we hear her need when its reported that  " .... finds joy in running the shop "

So if she finds joy in running the shop that must mean that spending time there and with familiar friends and faces keeps her physical and mental state in equilibrium and that is why she remains healthy .

So I think even if she loses $300 a month its like spending a reasonable sum to stay Healthy and be Happy as other alternatives may not be conducive to her wellbeing. Just my 2cts.

Offline YANG

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #28 on: November 30, 2018, 08:58 »
Maybe someone here, especially those who live in Chinatown, can invite her to yr place to listen to her favorite music on yr setup? Who knows, the beautiful reproduction of the music she adored may lure her to a well deserved retirement?  ;D
hard lah... Auntie belongs to the 70s 80s generation "Audiophile" ley...
Unless... we have avid fans of 張小英,鄧麗君,and 鳳飛飛 whom may possess lots of records by these 3 artists?

Offline EyesWideShut

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #29 on: November 30, 2018, 15:37 »
Its laudable that many audio enthusiasts empathize with her plight for the decades of joy that they find in an inconspicuous but familiar haunt where their favourite music and song are available.

But the focus on the commercial aspect of her business may not be fully in point in at this stage.

At her age, if she is able to ease into some activities in place of running the store which can actively while away her time and be engaged meaningfully to stay healthy and happy it would be ideal.

But if we take a step back , we hear her need when its reported that  " .... finds joy in running the shop "

So if she finds joy in running the shop that must mean that spending time there and with familiar friends and faces keeps her physical and mental state in equilibrium and that is why she remains healthy .

So I think even if she loses $300 a month its like spending a reasonable sum to stay Healthy and be Happy as other alternatives may not be conducive to her wellbeing. Just my 2cts.

Yea indeed , you do have your point too. We don't know what's best for her and being outsiders , we are nobody to decide for her. Guess some of us here are just thinking from a practical and economical point of view, as we do not know her family's financial situation and suffering losses every month might not be palatable to the average family .

Offline Jagdpanzer

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2018, 13:51 »
From the way it's reported, it appears she still attaches her business to nostalgia.
I presume she can read and write since she has been running the store for decades and should know the trade and connections.

She is probably about the same age as the Aldephi 3rd storey cd shop old fat chow botak with china partner (or mistress?) and glum brother. Heard his business thrives so well in the vinyl revival that he even opened a second shop in Bishan.

She should perhaps follow his business model and besides, she has an edge in rental too when compared to Aldephi.

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« Last Edit: December 02, 2018, 14:01 by Jagdpanzer »

Offline cable-guy

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Re: A tribute to Foo Leong Record store (on irememberSG)
« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2018, 14:51 »
From the way it's reported, it appears she still attaches her business to nostalgia.
I presume she can read and write since she has been running the store for decades and should know the trade and connections.

She is probably about the same age as the Aldephi 3rd storey cd shop old fat chow botak with china partner (or mistress?) and glum brother. Heard his business thrives so well in the vinyl revival that he even opened a second shop in Bishan.

She should perhaps follow his business model and besides, she has an edge in rental too when compared to Aldephi.

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It is very encouraging to read all the care and concerns from all the customers and friends.

Perhaps some of you may know their family background and business history going back the last years and decades.

More importantly, it is not sustainable to keep running the shop due to Aunty's age, health, physical limitations and financial constraints.

Once Aunty can transit into a life beyond Foo Leong Records, that will be the day.

Meanwhile just help to clear some CD stock and make social connections to make her day.

Can feel a lot of warmth in this thread...who can say audiophile and love of music cannot bring people together?

:-)

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