Papaya is a rich man’s treasure box: a three-storey maze of a warehouse filled with antiques and vintage items and only a small path that weaves between it all.
The 50-something owner, Supoj Siripornlertkul, sits smoking while his wife organises things in the warehouse. Papaya has been here for six years, he explains, but items
have been accumulating for more than 20. So big is their collection that they also set up Tuba, a restaurant-bar in Ekkamai with a similar retro sprawl.
“I started collecting vintage and antiques when I was in high school. I don’t know why I did it, but I like it,” he says. “Papaya is same, same like Apple Computers – we are both fruits that have grown over time and are now very popular.”
Items range from old transistor radios, television sets, chairs, sofa, clock to beverage signs, life-sized superheroes, and even Star Wars’ Jar Jar Binks… you name it. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, don’t go looking for a map or helpful staff member, just keep looking. Even though items are not sorted by type, an organised chaos does prevail and chances are, if it’s here, you’ll find it, eventually.
The best way to find out the price is to capture the picture with your mobile, trudge back to the front office and show it to the shopkeeper. Prices aren’t expensive, but they’re not super cheap either: on par with Suan Rot Fai, the retro railway night market.
The most expensive item we come across is a white fibre boomerang desk for a cool B1.5m. The price tags for the life-sized models of Batman, Captain America and the Green Lantern among other superheroes are pretty eye-watering, too – around B70,000-80,000. As for the ones of Marlon Brando and James Dean located by the bar counter on the first floor, both of these come in at B250,000 each – if you catch Supoj on a good day and can convince him to sell you them that is.
Therein lies the rub: over the years, Supoj has grown attached to much of his stock. So much so, in fact, that he refuses to sell whole swathes of it.
Papaya does very nicely just renting out much of its stock, usually for around 30 percent of its value and for a period that has to be negotiated on a deal-by-deal basis.
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