Located in Chifeng Street of the Zhongshan District, alongside a variety of other creative outlets and collectives, Par Store is known for their laid-back sense of style and business etiquette
Chifeng Street, Zhongshan District
Founded towards the end of 2018, Par Store was brought together by Lo Yi Fan and Hom Shen Hao, known by the people that surround them as Lo and Hom. Hao is the director of the store whereas Yi Fan is his right hand. Both coming from varying backgrounds, they established a concept store buried in the basements of the shop lots in the Taipei area. Located in Chifeng Street of the Zhongshan District, a mere seven minutes away from Central Taipei, alongside a variety of other creative outlets and collectives, Par Store is known for their laid-back sense of style and business etiquette. This identity trait has given them the perseverance to navigate in the fast-paced world that we are set in. The idea for Par Store came to Hao while he was playing in a band. Being friends with Yi Fan, a freelance designer friend of his at the time, Hao commissioned Yi Fan to come on board as the graphic designer. Their joint work at the time consisted in coming up with designs for the band – logos, tee-shirts merchandise and the band’s album art. «Hao, at the time was an independent musician and music creator while I was a freelance graphic designer». Yi Fan was managing an independent magazine in Taiwan. This led to the foundation of ‘Why-Z’, a publishing label under the vision and curation of Yi Fan himself. Together, Yi Fan and Hao then constructed what is now known today as Par Store. Their focus is put on selling vinyl records, band merchandise and independent magazines by Asian writers and editors. Through that, Par Store has slowed down the capitalist retail landscape with overproduced items in the name of making profit. When asked about what makes up Par Store’s philosophy and objectives, both Hao and Yi Fan share the same opinion, «Par Store is an extension of what we do in our day-to-day jobs outside of running a business. I create music with my band, Tommy Magazine, while Yi Fan manages the business aspects of the establishment with the help of my wife». For them the curation and customization of how Par Store is portrayed to the outer realms of society is a derivation of their creation as individuals.
Par Store, Taipei – the history
Prior to Par Store becoming a tangible creation of Hao and Yi Fan, the duo share on how the idea of it first came about. «The seed to what we now know as Par Store started with Hao. He had a financial banker who was a friend and supporter of his band. This guy owned a local and independent-record store. When the planning for Par Store was done, Hao had approached the record store owner who then scoured us with financial means to get us started». Hao’s goal was to boon a means to support himself while carrying on with his fervor and career as a musician. The space where Par Store resides now once belonged to a friend of Hao’s that was involved in the music scene of the locality. «The space was utilized by a store to sell select clothing items. It did not prove to be fruitful as the business began to fail as time went on. It was then when Hao took over the store». Living alongside known department chain stores and independent outlets of the creative scene in the locality of Zhongshan, Par Store’s continuing existence is a result of flocking tourists and customers in the area. «This helped bring in customers to the store. They would wander around and walk in as they are going about the day. We now have friends and peers who have opened up stores near ours». The name ‘Par Store’ was given by Hao himself, a recording label that was founded by him, known as ‘Petit Alp Records’. The letters on each of the words make up the abbreviation to form ‘PAR’. The saying ‘par’ rolled off the tongue well for Hao. He shares, «The word par brings the meaning of not much or not less. When it comes together, the name is nice and is easy for customers to remember».
The sections at Par Store
It is sixty-three square meters in total. Hosting a separation of three sections, the area of the store carries merchandise, magazines and vinyl records. «A chunk of items that we carry are merchandise that are crafted by Asian creatives. Curators, writers and contributors from Taiwan, Japan and South Korea pull together magazines and we sell them here in our store. Some of these creations are made by friends too, who we help selling. We do not limit the types of magazines we carry for sale». Used furniture are in budget, which is what they have been using since the opening of the store. They are simple in design and do not overshadow the items on display. Both Hao and Yi Fan merit magazines that have stand-alone personalities and assist them to plateau their brands. The two owners are involved in the choosing process and state that to this day, there has not been anything rejected. «The emphasis was on Asian creatives first, like those in the Taiwan area. We did not envisage any brands or creators on an international scale coming from the West». The two other areas are the counter and a delegated performance space. This area was left un-furnished – an intention set out by Hao to host gigs and events and gigs by bands and self-sustaining artists. «When we started out, there used to be a bar area. We then removed it as it was not feasible and was burning a hole for our finance. It did not match our identity as a concept store to be selling beverages as we are located below ground». Done together with friends, some of the events held here share a closeness – giving it a familiar feeling to patrons and tying them to the heart of the business. While carrying items from other designers, Par Store carries designs by Yi Fan and Hao – clothes, bags, stickers and socks are items designed and manufactured by the pair.
The integration of the underground-culture mindset
Par Store aims to ensure that their growth does not expand at a pace in which they would not be able to control. Hao shares, «While we exist in the area, we do not insist on overstepping and changing the locale to something unrecognizable. Such a mindset puts pressure and that can lead to negativity». Amassing a presence at a pace gives Hao and Yi Fan the leg room to plot future endeavors with peace of mind. In its prime, the two owners were not familiar with the semantics of running a business. Having no educational or prior work references to assist them in solidifying the daily ins and outs, they turned to their peers who have been running their curated stores through self-funding. «When Par Store was set up and ready to start operating, we were faced with the challenge of learning ways to keep track of our sales. A contemporary of ours who owns an art book and magazine store, Wildflower, taught us the tip and tricks. Being a first-time business owner can be nerve wrecking. The trepidations were eased by the help of our friends». Hao and Yi Fan share their choice to stay in their bubble and remain under-saturated in online and offline spaces. This is how they set themselves apart from their competitors. Par Store is instinct led, taking one step at a time which gives a laid back and welcoming feeling to their customers and partners. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Par Store caught the attention of international tourists. «Par Store is what it is due to the integration of the underground-culture mindset». Balancing customers from the area around them and pulling in pilgrims from Japan and South Korea, Par Store has been garnering press, but choose to plant themselves to their belief to being an enigma. As creators, both Hao and Yi Fan insist on integrating their work with creators around them. «We have worked with artist Chou Yi and Han Dong, a collaborator with model Kiko Mizuhara. These individuals have worked with us in the past, some their work superseding what we have done». When the lockdown started last year, Par Store was forced into halting their business. With the help of Hao’s wife, they diverted their efforts online to ensure they could stay afloat. In the coming month, Par Store is yet to host another event in their closed space as the world comes out of its chrysalis from the pandemic. «In the month of April this year, we are going to be partnering with Fred Perry. The performing space is going to be utilized to host the event». Both Hao and Yi Fan intend to carry forward with their individual future plans, utilizing the confines of Par Store. «Hao is establishing his band, Void, while I am working on putting forth a manga series».IMAGE GALLERY
No. 1號, Lane 3, Chifeng Street,
Taipei City, Taiwan 103