Tucked among the goods in Victor Shen’s store, in Taipei’s Guanghua Digital Plaza, is something extraordinary. It’s a cable crafted from silver and gold, carrying a price tag of nearly $4,000. The cable connects to a pair of headphones custom-molded to fit the wearer’s ears.
They don’t exactly fly off the shelves, Shen admits. Still, his offerings are emblematic of what Guanghua offers: a tech product for any specific need. “At Guanghua market, people come here for a purpose,” Shen told Rest of World.
Built in 1973 in an area known for secondhand bookstores, Guanghua was one of Taipei’s first shopping malls. Two spaceship-like buildings hold everything from vintage karaoke machines to the latest virtual reality equipment. If an obscure computer part or specific video game somehow isn’t on offer at Guanghua — or Syntrend, the trendier high-end mall next door — it’s guaranteed to be found in the stalls of the electronics street market spilling into the roads surrounding the plaza. Used bookstores are still interspersed between cellphone case shops and computer repair stalls on the second and third floors.
When Rest of World visited in November, we watched one mask-wearing gamer, Bai Rong, carry his massive CPU through the entrance to have it repaired from the third-floor stall where it had been custom-built. Under a tree in the courtyard at the heart of the mall, friends AJ Chiu and Tony Chen sat side by side over cups of bubble tea from local sensation Comebuy, playing the latest version of Pokémon. At the tiny temple tucked away on the sixth floor, a woman made an offering in front of tables piled with dragon fruit and persimmons.