25th May 2013
|Mr Goh Chwee (third from right) speaking to his friends during a farewell dinner at the Hup Seng provision shop yesterday. He is renting out his shop to an aspiring cafe owner. -- PHOTOS: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES|
FOR nearly 60 years, provision shop owner Goh Chwee and his wife, Madam Ong Lee, both 76, have been familiar faces in their neighbourhood.
Their shop has served as a convenient stop for Tiong Bahru residents to restock everyday necessities such as sugar, eggs and milk.
They decided to call it a day earlier this year when they were offered $8,000 a month to rent out their shop space in Tiong Bahru Road to an aspiring cafe owner.
They jumped at the opportunity.
"I've been here since I was 18. Both my wife and I have worked hard and it's time for us to retire," said Mr Goh.
He is renting out his Hup Seng shop space to a "young Singaporean man" who will retain the old blue doors of the shop.
"I'll be splitting the rental with my wife. It's more than enough for us to enjoy our golden years."
To celebrate the friendships they had forged, the couple hosted a dinner for more than 30 family members and neighbourhood friends yesterday evening.
Administrative executive Eileen Nai, 25, who has lived in Tiong Bahru all her life, said many long-time residents feel a sense of loss whenever mom-and-pop shops are replaced by new cafes, which try to retain the original facade but can never recreate the community spirit which took years to forge.
"We are sad that we have to say goodbye to these familiar faces as it means closing yet another chapter in Tiong Bahru's history."