Sungei Road flea market closure

Foot traffic low at new place: former Sungei Road market vendor

Among the rows of stalls selling army equipment at Golden Mile Food Centre, a small unit selling second-hand items stands out for its colourful, curated assortment of trinkets, water-colour paintings, antique sculptures and vintage gadgets.

The collection of wares - including old photos of Singapore, orchid gold-plated jewellery and even a decorative head of an elephant - belongs to Mr Chin Kim Bon, 70, who has been hawking at Sungei Road market for the past two decades.

He relocated to Golden Mile Food Centre last month, which is where the army market, known for the stalls selling military supplies, is also located.

The authorities had set aside more than 40 lock-up stalls at hawker centres for Sungei Road market's vendors who wish to continue their trade.

Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor noted in Parliament last Monday that the vendors who have taken up the lock-up stall option have formed a "natural clustering" at the Golden Mile Food Centre and the Chinatown Market.

She added that the Government is also putting up information to tell customers where some of the vendors have relocated to, and that more than 60 vendors are now receiving some form of government assistance.

LESS HUSTLE AND BUSTLE

It's quiet. People mostly come here to buy army equipment or to eat.

MR CHIN KIM BON, on his new stall at Golden Mile Food Centre where he says there is more space but fewer shoppers.

While Mr Chin has more space to showcase some of his best wares at his new location, he said that foot traffic is low and few shoppers venture into his stall.

"It's quiet. People mostly come here to buy army equipment or to eat. At Sungei Road, people make a trip down specifically to shop for second-hand wares from us vendors and buy (and take) home something for their personal collections."

Mr Chin usually purchases his wares from fellow Sungei Road vendors and rag-and-bone-men, picking out interesting goods based on his customers' tastes and requests.

"A lot of the more unique goods, including rare water-colour paintings, change hands multiple times. People who buy from me also resell the items. The Singapore market for such trade is small. Now that we're being dispersed, it is harder to coordinate."

Mr Chin said that apart from visiting reporters who have bought a few knick-knacks, he has hardly made any money at Golden Mile Food Centre. This is in stark contrast to the $1,000 or so he used to rake in at Sungei Road market monthly.

Last month, he spent his mornings running his stall at Golden Mile Food Centre. By 1pm, he would return to Sungei Road market to hawk to maximise his earnings.

Mr Chin plans to continue to hawk his second-hand goods. He has two children in their 30s and his wife is a cleaner. "I don't want to depend on my children, I prefer being independent."