Family owned sundry shops are becoming a rarity in Kuala Lumpur and other major cities/towns of Malaysia as the hypermarket (Tesco, Aeon, Giant, etc.) and mall shopping lifestyle trend takes hold over the years. Some just couldn’t cope with the competition (in prices, variety of SKUs carried, shopping convenience & environment) from the big boys or find a niche within the business to keep themselves relevant, and therefore regrettably, had no choice but to cease trading. Sad state of affairs, the livelihood of families are affected, the ‘sundry shop’ culture diminishes; but the reality is, if a business cannot turn a profit, it has no choice but to close.
Those which are still in business, I find are ones which are able to carve a niche for themselves by serving a local community, offering friendly and superior customer service, good product knowledge to the point of being able to advise or consult on a customer’s requirement, product specialisation and last but not least, operating the business off their own premises or one which has low rental, like a stall or shoplot in a local market.
I am guilty of giving most of my grocery (sundry goods) shopping business to the hypermarkets, as there are a few located nearby from home and is convenient for me to do so. But for fresh produce like vegetables, fruits, fish, poultry and meat, we prefer to visit and buy from the local wet market for freshness and also the shopping experience. One of the local wet markets which we frequent now and again is in Kampung Chempaka. Here, tucked at the far end of the the dry goods section, is a family owned and run sundry shop which amazes me with the sheer assortment of ‘Chinese’ dry goods, friendly customer service, product specialisation, sound product knowledge and free cooking/preparation advice and tips if you ask for it. With a constant and steady stream of customers, they certainly have carved themselves a firm niche in the sundry shop business and are here to stay, their customers all the happier for it :).
All photos: Fujifilm X-E2 with 35mm