“Come and listen even though you are not going to buy it!”

Since I was little, I have always passed by “san fo cheung” (Cantonese 散貨場, meaning shops or spaces on short-term leases that aim at fast sell-outs), which are particularly common in old districts. All residents would have heard this golden line from vendors – “Come on over and take a look even though you have no intention to buy!” Growing up in Yuen Long and working in Tokwawan made me notice various kinds of “san fo cheung”. The most impressive “san fo cheung” was the one at the street right opposite the office I used to work. It usually promoted only a single highlight product, the little shop was selling different highlighted product each day, for example, “convenient scent dispenser”, “electricity-saving multi-functional wok”, “light and sharp porcelain knife”, “easy-to-clean chopping board”, “extremely-absorbant towel”…etc.

One day after I had lunch, I found that there was a group of people actively engaging in a conversation and question-and-answer session with the vendor. I stopped in front of the shop curiously and wanted to figure out what made the big crowd stay there and watch. I kept listening to the vendor together with the group of middle-aged people and elders. I listened and laughed out from time to time. There wasn’t one moment that I felt bored, even though I had been standing still and listening for more than half an hour. The product promoted was a kind of old mobile phone. Its cost was a few hundred HK dollars. “Limited editions” were available, as the seller said, and four multi-functional gifts were guaranteed at purchase of the mobile phone. There was nothing special or attractive about the mobile phone itself, but the appeal was the vendor’s way of talking and his gestures. I believe it was an improvised performance with a very compact content, which was able to move people and create exciting emotions. Since this interesting experience, I have been paying attention to and collecting similar kinds of vendors’ talk.

Besides the “talk show” from these vendors, I noticed that there is another more passive form of the sound of selling, that is, the promotional sound recording being played in loop in some stores. Unfortunately those soundtracks that keep telling us how good the product is and how worthy it is to buy them repeats over and over again at the same spot. They end up being ignored. Customers only shop without listening, hence turning the promotional soundtracks into low-key background music (or noise in the environment).

I have been listening around for these two kinds of sounds of selling, and paying attention to how people react to them – I treat them as “free products” I get from those shops.

Susi Law
background story of commissioned project for The Library by soundpocket
written on 10/1/2014, Norway

唔買都嚟聽吓

從小到大不時也會經過一些散貨場,在舊區尤其易見。「喂!唔買都黎睇吓」﹣彷彿是叫賣者的金句,家傳戶曉。於元朗長大,大學畢業後於土瓜灣上班,午飯、出勤或回家常經過種種不同的「叫賣點」。印象最深刻仍是公司樓下對面馬路的一個小小散貨場,通常只會推銷一種重點產品,小小的舖位每天營銷各式各樣的貨品﹣易用簡便香精、慳電萬用鍋、輕巧鋒利陶瓷刀、易潔砧板、極吸水毛巾…等等。一天吃過午飯經過那散貨場,發現一群人雀躍的在跟叫賣者往來對答說笑(時而興奮搶答),我好奇的停下來,想看看到底那是甚麼樣的新奇產品讓人潮一直湧現及駐足。

我跟一群中年人和長者們一直聽,一直聽,時而發笑,最後我站著聽了大半個小時而半點也不覺納悶。那天的店原來是在賣一種舊式手提電話,「限量發售」數百元一個的電話,連帶附送四種多功能贈品。那電話本身其實不甚吸引或新奇,但那推銷者的話語和講話的方式實在精彩,自覺那環環相扣的內容和令人「心郁郁」的氣氛就如一種即興演出,而且是種能讓觀眾(聽眾)積極參與的表演。於是我便開始更留意和收集這些叫賣的聲音。

叫賣的聲音除了叫賣者即場「講話表演」外,還有種靜態的叫賣聲,就是在商店的中被重複播放的宣傳段落聲帶。可惜那些不停告訴我們產品有多好優惠有多高的聲帶的和重複性,使客人們大都只買不聽,通常令叫賣聲只淪為沉寂的背景音樂(甚或環境噪音)。

從2011年起,我開始四出聆聽這兩類叫賣聲音,留意其動靜及人們的聆聽反應﹣我將之視為我從各店中取得的「免費產品」。

羅偉珊 (Susi Law)
為聲音圖書館委託計劃描述
30/11/2013 寫於德國
10/1/2014 修改於挪威
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Two dollars each / 全場兩蚊

  

Nice-smelling stickers / 防蟲香氛貼

  

It’s New Year, it’s time to buy New Clothes! / 過新年著新衫

  

Multi-functional wok / 多功能鑊

  

Man Kee big discount / 文記大特價

  

Yeung Woo Tong Guilinggao /養和堂金牌龜苓膏

  

Again, two dollars each / 全部都係兩蚊都係兩蚊

  

SONY Mobile phone with 5 free gifts / SONY手提電話送埋五份贈品

  

An afternoon wandering around Yuen Long, listening without buying
午後閒逛元朗,只聽不買

The wok is free for you / 送埋隻鑊比你喇

  

Doesn’t matter how much it cost / 淨係問幾多錢冇用架喎

  

No more coughing / 止咳化痰

  

The cheapest in Hong Kong / 全港至平

  

The elderly must like it / 老人家實鍾意

  

Treasure-hunting song
尋寶城夜冷雜貨店主題曲

  

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Artist Bio

Susi Law, independent artist/ curator/ researcher and active listener. She focuses on capturing, translating, articulating and circulating sensitivity. She currently lives and learns freely in Germany. She graduated from art acadamies in Norway and Hong Kong.

藝術家簡歷
羅偉珊活躍於聆聽,獨立於創作、策展及研究。她正專注研究如何捕捉、傳譯、流通感知及其質感。現於德國生活及自由學習,曾於挪威及香港修讀藝術。

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