Group buys on the rise to support hawkers during dine-in ban
Instagram page @wheretodapao stops taking orders within minutes due to high demand
It was not enough for the co-founder of popular Instagram account @wheretodapao to feature the plight of digitally challenged elderly hawkers online since it launched on May 21.
With a ban on dining-in , Miss Jocelyn Ng, 24, wanted to go beyond encouraging customers to patronise hawker stalls with takeaway orders and "implement practical solutions" instead.
So she partnered with delivery start-up dlvr.it and plastic wholesaler Toyogo for her first Instagram Live group buy for three hawker stalls - Shun Fatt Roasted Delight at Empress Road Market and Food Centre, Shun Fa Satay Beehoon at ABC Brickworks Food Centre and Rong Yi Pau in Queen Street - on June 12.
The team became so overwhelmed by the high demand, it had to stop taking orders within the first 10 minutes once each stall reached its cap for the day.
Attributing its success to supportive Singaporeans, Miss Ng - who will be planning more group buys and including halal options - told The New Paper: "There were many who knew about the plight of hawkers and wanted to contribute."
Meanwhile, trader Kelvyn Khng, 34, and his wife sprung into action at the start of phase two (heightened alert) when they realised some hawkers were closing shop because of business constraints.
The couple started Instagram account @s.a.w.groupbuy to organise group buys for those living in Sembawang, Admiralty and Woodlands about four to five times weekly.
With the uncertainty surrounding when dining in will finally resume, Mr Khng believes that supporting hawkers during this period is crucial to their survival, even as he acknowledges many may be wary of heading out.
He said: "As long as we adhere to safe distancing measures and maintain cleanliness, there is no reason to stop going to hawker centres just because (some) are affected by the virus."
Local musician Shabir Tabare Alam is taking the group buy concept one step further - supporting hawkers and benefiting migrant workers at the same time in order to "keep traditions alive".
He collaborated with the volunteer group Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition and news platform 24Asia News to form WeEat during phase two (heightened alert). To date, the initiative has purchased more than 1,100 meals and snacks from hawkers and distributed them to about 940 migrant workers over the past few weekends since May 30.
WeEat planned to stop this project on June 13 once it reached the cap of $10,000, but it is looking into extending the timeline and expanding its hawker reach because of the overwhelming support and financial donations.
Said Mr Shabir, 36: "Group buying is a sensible alternative for people who want to support hawkers without risking themselves, as there will be less crowding when a few group buyers head down to purchase food in bulk."