We stumbled upon JUNK, quite by accident, while we were scouring the streets of Georgetown (the historic district of Penang, Malaysia) for food stands. One glance through the window and I just had to go in. After browsing a bit, we met the owner, Ono, and asked if he would allow us to come back with cameras to photograph the place. He was more than willing, so we made plans for the following evening.
The next night we arrived to find a group of Japanese 20-somethings sifting through sunglasses, jewelry and handbags on the second floor. I immediately started snapping pictures and asking Ono to tell me everything about this place! Communication was no issue, as Ono speaks three dialects of Chinese, in addition to English, Japanese, French and Malay.
“Ono’s Junk” opened at 405 Lebuah Chulia in Georgetown, Penang (Malaysia) only six months ago, but Ono has been collecting antiques for the last 15 years. Before moving to the heart of the historic district, he had another shop, and despite all the effort of transporting and displaying so much “junk”, he knew the move would be worth it. JUNK’s novelty is as much about the actual pieces as it is about Ono’s knack for creative displays. It’s this skill that has earned him jobs as a contract designer for restaurants, cafes and hotels that are looking for a unique flair with a consistent theme.
Odds are, if you want it- he’s got it. You can find everything at JUNK, from sculptures to shoes. The shop is full of rare musical instruments, antique cameras, clocks, bikes, action figures, and hundreds of other collectibles, with prices that fit every budget. Two of his priciest pieces are Vespas from 1975 and 1973, situated near the front of the shop. They are listed at $13,000 and $15,000 USD. The second floor is home to an enviable collection of women’s vintage, designer clothing and accessories.
He used to go hunting for all of his rare finds, now people often bring things to him. “Everything in the shop tells a story,” Ono said. Opening this amazing collection to the public is one of his ways of keeping those stories alive.
In 2013, I quit my job and bought a one-way ticket to Thailand. After four months of backpacking I returned to the States and fell in love with a guy whose job sent us straight back to Asia. Nothing has gone according to plan... and it's been absolutely magical.
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