Peter Quek of Da Da Records... before the present facelift to
and before moving down to the ground floor.
Pictures by Cyril Ng
One would imagine that after 40 years, Peter Quek of Da Da Records
would have a good collection of music rarities. Not so, says Peter.
There is not much, and most of them are now kept by his older son.
Long ago, Peter had decided not to be a music collector. He says:
"If I started keeping things, then there isn't much I can sell."
As a business, he felt the goods should go to the customer.
the past month, regulars to Da Da Records, located on the ground
floor at Funan The IT-Mall, would do a double take with the new
layout of the store and especially the new name, Laser Flair. In
March, after operating Da Da for 19 years, Peter decided to give
up the retail business. (For those who remember, he was helping
his father for 21 years at the Oriental store before branching out
on his own.)
he didn't drop out of sight. Instead, he stayed on for another one-and-a-half
months to help the new owner with the store's teething problems.
One also suspects that Peter stayed on to inform his regular customers
about the change, many of whom actually thought he was joking when
he brought up the subject.
leave the business now? Peter never pinpointed any one particular
reason, only to say that it was "time" to leave. But who would have
guessed that with him selling off his business just before the SARS
outbreak, timing seems to be everything. While Peter knows that
he is not getting any younger, the current economic recession and
the tough retail market must also be considerations for pulling
who has followed Da Da probably realised that Peter does have a
good sense of "timing." He built up a niche for himself in the '80s
(and probably way before that) taking orders for vinyls, especially
by indie acts. What helped were the weekly shipments and you could
get the latest releases while they were still being raved about.
But what really clinched the deal with customers was that imported
albums were going for an affordable $20 (as compared to about $40
fans now pay at HMV or Roxy Records. The latter has really fill
the void when Da Da stopped bringing in vinyls).
even when CDs came, Peter never forgot the vinyl crowd. But he probably
felt there would be a lot more players in the CD market so he switched
to selling video CDs just before the craze started. Later, he was
also one of the first to expand into selling DVDs.
I agreed to the sale, I couldn't sleep for a week," he laughs. It
wasn't that he felt he made the wrong decision. It was more the
thought of a new and different lifestyle. For now, he gets to watch
a bit more TV especially music programmes or rock concerts
("you miss a lot when you're working at the shop") but he still
keeps to his hours. "In those vinyl days, there was the paperwork
and the only time you could do any business with the US was around
midnight," he says. So being up around midnight is not unusual.
He still rises around six but instead of heading towards the shop,
he now goes for a morning walk at the beach with his wife, who has
been his steady right hand.
getting used to "new" gadgets like handphones. "Why do I need a
handphone for when I'm in the shop most of the time?" And now, he
says, "half the time I keep forgetting and leave it in the car."
now, Peter and his wife will be visiting their son who is studying
in Australia. Their younger son is still doing national service.
"We've not had a real holiday. Even to Hong Kong, it's like after
two days, we're back." And after that, a trip to Thailand. But lest
you think that "Da Da Records" will be a thing of the past, Peter
says that he's only sold the shop space and the stocks. He's still
holding on to the name and, who knows, Da Da Records may still live