Hong Kong sells out of face masks and shin pads (and cakes) in mini-boom from protests

Katy Wong

Pitched battles between riot police and demonstrators have left Hong Kong's economy reeling.

But while the financial hub has taken a hit, a mini-boom has been feeding off the protests and the message of their pro-democracy movement.

One small bakery is helping feed the millions taking to the streets with special mooncakes, a traditional Chinese pastry, stamped with protest slogans, such as “Hong Kong People” and “Let’s  Fight Together".

Meanwhile, sports shops and construction outlets are doing a roaring trade, running out of protective gear snapped up to defend against the charging riot police.

One family-owned bakery is selling out of mooncakes so fast that on Saturday they told the Sunday Telegraph they were working through 8,000 emergency orders in the afternoon to keep up with demand.

“I wanted to have some fun and support Hong Kong people,” Naomi Yuen, 32, who runs the place with her mother. “I want to spread positive thinking.”

Across Victoria Harbour, outdoor gear and sporting shops line the streets of Mongkok, a neighbourhood home to flashpoints for years.

Protest gear, items such as black t-shirts, helmets, goggles and hiking poles – repurposed as clubs – have disappeared quickly this summer, staff told the Sunday Telegraph.

Protesters have adopted black as their colour of choice – reflecting the despair they feel. On Saturday, stocks of black shin pads and black helmets were running low, while ones in neon yellow and blue were plentiful.

Teachers dressed in black protest against the extradition bill during a rally organised by Hong Kong  Credit: Kim Hong-Ji /Reuters

One store that specialised in safety gear, such as hard hats, had nearly sold out its stock of respirators. “We didn’t see such a huge amount of customers a few months ago,” said Yvonne Tsang, a saleswoman. But an uptick this summer means “we only have a few left.”

Artisans are picking up on the protests as well, with Shel Crafts & Music designing protest jewellery and other knick-knacks like keychains, ranging from £16 to £30.

The designer, who declined to provide her full name as her colleagues have received threats from those against the protests, said she started tinkering with protest illustrations for herself without any intention to sell the pieces.

But customers began inquiring after she posted some of her work online, and she’s since sold a handful of hand-drawn glass pendants that show “Lennon Walls,” colourful walls plastered with protest art and slogans.

“Everyone would like to speak out because we can’t stand the situation anymore; we are trying everything we can to express our views,” she said.