Stalls, shops cheer as Fengshan Market reopens after 4 months
Some hawkers at Fengshan Market and Food Centre, better known to foodies as Bedok 85 Market, have not earned a cent since the centre shut for renovations on Feb 10.
Some scrambled to find part-time jobs, while others stayed home, unable to find other jobs as cooking was all they knew.
They had to dip into their savings when the closure was extended due to circuit breaker measures, implemented on April 7 and lifted on June 2.
After more than four months, they are relieved that the market, in Bedok North Street 4, reopens today.
Mrs Linda Tan, 56, who runs a stall selling wonton noodles and another, chicken rice, told The New Paper that the past four months were the hardest in her 17 years there.
She depended on savings and subsidies to get by. Two of her employees looked for part-time jobs during the period.
She said: "I was shocked when I heard the closure would be extended. It meant no earnings for two months and then, another two months.
"I am so happy we can finally reopen."
Mr Low Teck Kuang, 62, who owns a fishball noodle stall, said he did not find another job. The range of government subsidies helped him and his workers tide over the past four months.
Shops nearby told TNP that business had fallen since the closure of the market, home to more than 240 stalls.
Mr Chow Seng Guan, 55, who works at a Chinese medicine shop opposite the market, said footfall had fallen by 80 per cent since February.
At an electronics store next door, employee Jerry Wang, 31, said business fell by 30 per cent when the market closed and worsened to 80 per cent when the circuit breaker kicked in.
Residents such as Ms Jessie He, 62, who lives opposite the market, said getting groceries had been inconvenient as she had to take a bus two stops down to buy groceries.
Another resident, Ms Sylvia Han, 58, said groceries in supermarkets nearby cost 20 per cent more.
Dr Kapil Tuli, professor of marketing and director of Retail Centre of Excellence at Singapore Management University, said hawker centres are community gathering places that increase foot traffic and therefore the chances of impulse buying, which is vital for neighbourhood shops.
But while the market's reopening would be a boost to nearby businesses, Dr Tuli cautioned : "The speed of recovery depends on the severity of community spread. The higher the spread, the more cautious people will be in terms of stepping out."
While Mrs Tan expects a slow recovery and only half of the usual customers to return, she remains optimistic.
She said: "We have hung in there for so long... we earn what we can."