A record collection

Tan playing a vinyl record at his son’s shop in Gelang Patah, Johor.

GELANG PATAH: What started out as a hobby more than 20 years ago led a shopowner selling second-hand items to amass tens of thousands of vinyl records and cassette tapes over the years.

Tan Eng Ching, 61, said he was still a little boy when he first fell in love with vinyl records but it was not until he opened his own shop in Taman Perling about two decades ago that he started collecting the records and cassette tapes.

“When I was young, my family could not afford to buy the records so when I grew up and got the means to do so, I could not hold back.

“I still remember making a newspaper advertisement to promote my shop selling second-hand electronic goods back then when I suddenly had an idea to add that I was also looking for vinyl records. That was how I started my collection,” said Tan.

He said his hobby turned into an obsession where he devoted his time and energy to go all over Malaysia in search of the old items.

“I would get calls from people in Seremban, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and the east coast states who wanted to dispose of their records and tapes, and I did not mind going all the way there to collect them.

“Eventually, things spiralled a little bit out of control at one point and I found myself with more than 60,000 vinyl records and 50,000 cassette tapes and no savings left.

“I even had to rent another shoplot to store all my collected items as I had no more space in my house. There, I spent one year just arranging everything on the shelves because there were too many records and cassettes,” he said.

He then decided to take a break and began selling some of the items at flea markets. He also used social media to get in touch with people who shared similar interests as him.

To date, the most expensive record he sold was at RM5,000 to a customer in Singapore, he said, adding that his customers ranged from locals to those in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The grandfather of five said he now stores his items at his son’s electronics shop here, where he also spends most of his time just fiddling with the old records and tapes.

He also welcomes visitors who are interested to browse through the old records and tapes, or just to have a chat and listen to music with him.

He added that the excellent sound quality from the analogue format records was what attracted him in the first place, citing artistes like Teresa Teng as one of his all-time favourites.

“The sound quality from these old records is very different compared to the modern digitally produced music because the analogue format makes it sound as if the singer is singing in front of you.

“I think this is also why there is a lot of interest from the younger generation these days who are catching on to the trend.

“My youngest customer was an 11-year-old boy who told me he became interested in vinyl records after listening to a record at his uncle’s house,” said Tan.

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