Vintage vinyls and venerable classics in the back streets of Nanjing


Nanjing’s downtown backstreets have now become a burrow known for second-hand books and vintage vinyl. Scattered along Hankou Lu are bookstores and miscellaneous stores stocked with vintage items.

Scholar Bookstore, located at 48 Hankou Lu, is full of relics from the past, as well as second-hand books. Unlike most of the stores of this type you’ll find in Nanjing, Scholar has its fair share of novels in English, as well as some in French. While it’s not known for a plethora of English titles, you’ll still be able to find a few cloth-bound classics in decent condition, such as “Oliver Twist” and “Moby Dick.” If you love French literature, there are 1930s novels, poems, and an unexpected amount of Russian novels translated into French for ¥10-30, with occasional ¥5 books. Throughout, you’ll find bits of sheet music, postage stamps and, to my surprise, a Backstreet Boys tape.

Upstairs are more valuable traditional antiques, such as jewelry boxes and old books, as well as scores by better-known composers, such as Mozart and Tchaikovsky. The 19th century decoration is accompanied by adapted furniture; an antique piano, and tables and chairs that look like they came straight from Emily Dickinson’s house. On the stairs themselves, the walls are adorned with portraits and paintings featuring the occasional duck as well as collectible teaspoons.

Further down the lane you’ll find the quaint “Lair Vintage”, which bills itself as a hub for all things vintage fashion. Brilliantly bringing back retro chic, the boutique captures a nice mix of retro clothing in a modern society. Their larger collection of vinyl carries the boutique theme, featuring vinyl from the past and present, as well as soundtracks from films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Call Me by Your Name”.

Up front, there’s mostly clothing, ranging from dungarees to leather jackets and a sizable collection of sweaters. Although the accessories and music section is not such a large collection, the vinyls and CDs are also neat and of favorable quality.

As a fun aside, the store owner can often be seen strutting his featured clothes around the store, as well as on his WeChat Moments as Outfit of the Day (OOTD).

Finally for the piece de resistance; Vintage 101 serves as a haven for all things modern rock. Aside from the immaculate collection of vintage 90s t-shirts and Doc Martins, the eclectic collection of CDs would be reason enough to visit as there is sure to be something for everyone. To name a few examples, their wide range of 90s varsity jackets and sweaters are accompanied by the iconic John Lennon Windsor eyewear. Not everything can be bought with pocket money, but you can find a few graphic t-shirts for around ¥30.

When it comes to their CD range, the shelves hold a perfect balance of rock, folk and alternative, with the occasional bit of psychedelic rock, all collected during the owner’s extensive global travels. The boutique’s charisma can be experienced from the hidden entrance adorned with Beatles memorabilia and fun posters, to the unique step down memory lane captured by the eclectic decor and vibe. Don’t be fooled by the small size of the shop; it features an extensive collection of irresistible trinkets for music lovers and an assortment of bohemian bling.

Although each store varies the owners are all a pleasure to talk to and will help you if you are looking for anything else as what is in the stores is only a fraction of the entire collection. With multiple restaurants and bars in the surrounding area, this hot spot near Nanjing University is undoubtedly the new destination for lazy weekends simply lost in time.

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