A wet market fruit seller did an AMA on r/Singapore recently. Using PRAW, I have compiled all her second level answers and the corresponding question.
|Question: Auntie got poke the fruits until you cannot sell or not|
|Answer: Yes. A lot of fruits end up bruised. Worst case is customers digging their nails into the fruit. And not just limited to Aunties. I’m most scared of kids who pinch and dig their nails into the fruits, as if they are kneading play doh|
|Question: Do you earn a lot selling fruits?|
|Answer: Comfortable enough to survive in Singapore. Profit is lean, and getting leaner.|
|Question: What do you think about the food wastage situation in Singapore? Do you see customers avoiding bruised fruits so much so that they turn bad and have to be thrown away?|
|Answer: Food wastage is one big concern, and I foresee it to get worse, as a huge bulk of the younger generation grow up in a comfortable environment, almost privileged. Yes, customers do avoid bruised fruits and 99% of it has to be thrown away. A friend actually suggested for me to looking into organic composting, but that requires space – scarcity in Singapore.|
|Question: When you are all out of bananas, will you say bojio?|
|Answer: Bo kim jio|
|Question: how to tell if apple is crunchy, and not ‘powdery’|
|Answer: You got to see what type of apple it is. Buy South Africa top red (馬蹄蘋果) or New Zealand rose apples. Crisp and crunchy|
|Question: What is your typical working day like, from start to finish? Also OP, don’t forget to send verification to the mods so this thread don’t get locked|
|Answer: On a typical working day, my father wakes at 2am. He starts work at 3 preparing the fruits for sale. Morning crowd from 6am to 12pm. New stock arrive, he tidies up the stall, preparing more fruits for sale. His day ends around 7pm after the evening shopping crowd.
Usually he’s a one-man show with a helper in the morning and I help out occasionally on weekends and prayer days aka last day and 14th of every lunar month. My day starts from 6am to latest 3pm.
|Question: Do supermarkets like NTUC and Shengsiong cause you to lose customers?|
|Answer: Yes, when the deciding factor is pricing.
There are people who come to our stall and compare prices of every single fruit to the prices of NTUC etc. I tell them to gtfo nicely
|Question: In China, they purposely employ hunks and make them go topless when selling fruits. Will you do that?|
|Answer: I scared my regulars too excited until kena stroke|
|Question: how old are you?
Do you want to continue the business in the future?
|Answer: I’m in my late 20s.
This is a good question; I’ve thought about it for the longest time ever and considering the changing consumer behaviour, as of now I have no plans to take over the business.
|Question: Can you really tell how good/sweet/juicy the fruits are? How do you learn how to tell?
How to tell a good watermelon? I can never figure this one out. Once selected a watermelon that tasted more like cucumber, literally no joke.
|Answer: This takes experience to tell whether a fruit is good. Also depends on luck. Jackfruit and melons are the hardest to tell, till now I cannot tell. There were occasions when my dad went knnccb after cutting the melons/jackfruit – he kena punked big time.|
|Question: Can we order online from the wet market? Sorry if it’s a dumb question. I’ve been here a month.|
|Answer: No. Digital commerce only served to shave off our lean profits even further
Please don’t go to wet market and ask this question, the stallholders would scold the living daylights out of you
|Question: Just want to drop by to say that I enjoyed your AMA. Some of your reply are jin farni and informative. Additional point because you are a lady.|
|Answer: Thank you. Oh that gets a point too? Aw|
|Question: Does most of your business come from regular customers? Are you losing business to the supermarket chains?|
|Answer: Our fruits stall is located in an old neighbourhood where birds would think thrice about flying over there. Hence, a good majority of our customers are regulars, and they seem to trust only my father. Our loyal clientele is ageing, and new residents in the neighbourhood don’t shop at the wet market as much. We consistently lose business to the supermarket chains, been like this for ages, especially for premium fruits e.g. Grapes and peaches|
|Question: Thank you for doing this AMA. It’s very informative.|
|Answer: You’re welcome|
|Question: What is the biggest difference between buying fruits from a NTUC and a wet market fruit stall like yours?|
|Answer: NTUC – You only have yourself to blame if the fruits pai jiak
Wet Market – You can shift the blame to us
|Question: The way you switch between standard English and Singlish is damn power, you must have done well in school. You also probably speak all the dialects.
How the hell did you manage to learn all that? And what’s your highest academic qualification, and do people think you’re wasting your time at the wet market?
|Answer: Thank you for the compliment. I was never academically inclined but reading extensively during my childhood years had me on a better ground.
I am Teochew but I cannot speak Teochew, learned basic Hokkien during my past employment.
I am a degree holder. Well they are more interested in my life than in the wet market. But there were parents who viewed me with disdain, one even whispering to her kids “don’t be like her in the future”.
|Question: Can teach me what are the “better” fruits to pick? Or, alternatively, do you push the crappy fruits onto unsuspecting customers?|
|Answer: No funny dents or mushy feelings when you hold the fruit on your hand.
I don’t, unless they were rude to my father, the other stall helper or me.
|Question: True or false do you mark up the prices for a white
Expat vs a local?
|Answer: For my family business- no.
For others – I don’t know.
|Question: if a customer asks if a fruit is sweet, will you ever say no? my mum likes to ask this question but i tell her no point because they want you to buy so why would they say no even if its not sweet. my theory could be wrong!|
|Answer: I usually answer ‘ok lah’. This is one ambiguous question that you have got to manage their expectations carefully.|
|Answer: Uh, Apple pen.
There was a grandma who brought her grandchild on a learning trip at a wet market. She asked me to explain to the kid why was the pineapple different from an apple
|Question: Damn you cool.
Just a thought – it seems like the real edge that you guys have over NTUC fruits is that you guys know your shit and pick good stuff instead of zam every fkshit, coz well, not all fruits that look good on the surface are actually tasty
How do y’all (if you do) play this to your advantage? Coz it seems like most of the population is ignorant.
I mean let’s be frank here, in the pragmatic Singapore not a lot of people will be concerned with the heritage value of wet markets when they are deciding where to get their fruits
|Answer: We don’t actually play it to our advantage, we’re just doing business ethically|
|Question: Is there a trick to picking sweet oranges?|
|Answer: Go for navel oranges|
|Question: Feels like an ops nightmare imo, esp deciding what fruits to stock and optimum amount. Do you guys agar agar or go down a more tech/analytics path?|
|Answer: You don’t need tech/analytics for this. I can tell how much to order for the next day by monitoring sales. Today customers buy bananas tomorrow they whack grapes; trends too fast to track by tech. It also depends on the availability of specific fruits as well|
|Question: Why are soursops so expensive???!!!!|
|Answer: Because some smart alec said it has cancer treating properties and it went viral on the internet.|
|Answer: 1. Fruits we cut for sale are aesthetically not appealing eg papayas with grey streaks on the skin. They are perfect for consumption.
2. Some people use such fruits for cooking/baking e.g. Bananas for Kueh. So we sell them at cost price. The remaining, we throw. I know some fruits (not my stall) goes into the fruit juice you drink.
3. We don’t sell durians. But I think the sharper the thorns are the better the durian
4. New Zealand rose apples
5. I don’t eat fruits regularly, and the times when I eat fruit are when
|Question: Honestly -what is your opinion on the fruit stock at supermarket chains? I have an aunt who buys exclusively from family businesses like yours cos she thinks those at the chains are lousy- store managers don’t care as much as the uncle who’s been hawking his wares for 20+ years and only want the good stuff for his clientele.
Correct me if I’m mistaken but don’t the fruits all come from the same few suppliers given we’re a small island state? It’s not like you can drive out to the plantations, sample and pick your favourites to sell.
|Answer: Stocks mostly same but what differs is whether I sell as it is or I curate what I sell|
|Question: How do you feel about Catalonia leaving Spain ?|
|Answer: Is it going to impact the imports of Spain fruits into Singapore?|
|Question: What are the cheapest fruits to get for each month?|
|Answer: Stick to good old bananas|
|Question: do you believe in the power of papaya milk?|
|Answer: I haven’t had the need for that, so I don’t know if I believe|
|Question: Firstly, I love your FB page, and would love to drop by sometimes.
1. What are your profit margins? A range is adequate.
|Answer: Thank you for liking my content.
1. If big-scale wet market fruit stalls can earn $10K a month, we are comparatively smaller scale and of course earn much lesser than them
|Question: How to get powdery red apples? Those are awesome.|
|Answer: Not sure if Gaia apples are the ones you’re looking for|
|Question: Please teach me how to choose the sweetest Chinese pears! I love them but they are so hit and miss for me.|
|Answer: What type of Chinese pears are you referring to? Chinese White pears (鴨梨)?|
|Question: do u know what’s the right way to pick the best fruits? like how do u tell which would taste the best n stuff|
|Answer: No definite way to tell. As long as no funny dents or mushy feeling you’re safe|
|Question: Which fruits type is you most profitable and is there any fruits for you guys which you buy very cheap and sell it very high?|
|Answer: We sell a lot of bananas, watermelons, apples and pears. They bring in bulk of the revenue.
For us, we aren’t a wholesaler. We wouldnt be capable to buy cheap and sell them to pocket high profits
|Question: Is it true that sales peak during pre CNY and during the first/fifteen lunar month ?|
|Answer: Yes. For Pre-CNY we work until we don’t even have the time to do spring cleaning at home. Spring cleaning is done on CNY eve.|
|Question: Ok real question.
What are some tips on choosing fruits that you need to cut into(cannot eat from outside) like Papaya, water melons etc.
|Answer: Papaya: you’ll feel that the skin is more sticky, and you feel its weight sink into your palms.
Watermelon: solid sound when you slap it. Colour sorta fades when they are riper when harvested
|Question: I choose fruits by picking the ones closest to me, so that I can GTFO asap. So far it’s been working fine, but is there any reasons not to do this?|
|Answer: The probability of you grabbing one that has worms and not realise until you get home|
|Question: What is the worst customer you’ve ever met?
Follow up question, how do u deal with those that look down on you for doing these types of jobs?
|Answer: 1. This dude who paid with a $1000 note for $10+ worth of fruits. Emptied our cash float for him.
2. 🤷🏽♀️🤷🏽♀️🤷🏽♀️ and speak to them in perfect English with some angmoh accent. Just joking. I hope their kids or themselves become some high flyer in the future.
|Question: whats the best time to buy fruits at cheapest value.|
|Answer: Lion time. No, there’s no such time for cheapest value. Unless the fruits are about to be spoilt.|
|Question: and also why fruit vendor like to sell spoilt avocados 😦 ?|
|Answer: Eh hello we won’t know either. You think our eyes got x-ray ah|
|Question: I noticed the fruits these days are not as fresh as they used to be.
Case in point, Envy apples which I had to pay a premium on. Their taste and texture used to be on point but these days they are a gamble. Most of the time they are soggy and tasted like they have been on the shelf for 6 months.
Is Singapore getting fruits that area left unsold from the country of produce?
|Answer: I also encounter such issues when curating the stock for sale. According to experts, quality is impacted by weather.|
|Question: How come we don’t get Ambrosia apples very often, compared to Envy, Gala, Rose, etc?|
|Answer: I sincerely have no idea about this. That being said, I observe Singaporeans to like apples that are crisp and crunchy and sweet. Not so much of tartness|
|Question: Just an idea, maybe it would help if you send out regular mailers to us younger folks like hey new stock coming in , come get them fresh. My experience so far has been to get the freshest produce whenever possible, whether it’s ripe or not, so long it’s fresh, you can keep it at home till it’s good for eating.
I had shopped at supermarket chains, local wet markets and even all the way to Pasir Panjang wholesale market. Fruits that are the freshest are almost always the best. What I had noticed, for fruits, the difference in price is quite slight at all these places, it’s cheapest at the wholesaler but the savings for consumer quantities are not enough to warrant the long trip there. Supermarket chains almost always rank the lowest in terms of fresh, because I suspect they push them around different branches to clear them out. The wet market is the in between. Problem is, I don’t go there everyday so I don’t know what’s the new stuff. I can’t really rely on the seller too, because everything is fresh and everything is sweet. Which I totally understand, since he has to try to clear his stuff.
So to surmise my rambling, what’s your newest stock? I want spanish melons, that weird long finger grapes, cara cara, buah luku, the soft green pears but so fresh that it snaps, crunchy rose apples, pakistan mangoes and man i feel so old.
|Answer: EDMs to update stock – can be done.
New Zealand rose apples, Australian sunkist oranges, USA grapes. Spanish mini tangerines out of stock. We have the soft green pears. No mangoes. May have pisang merah hidden in the stock of bananas.
|Question: The dragonfruits from Ecuador are amazing but expensive af too. Rainer cherries are nice too. Do you foresee the younger generation picking up more exotic fruits?
P.S: Besides Sunny Fruit, which are the other Tambun pomelos good?
|Answer: I don’t see the younger regulars to have that much of an appetite for exotic fruits though.
There was this particular pomelo that we had to specially drive to the wholesaler to pick up more stock… I forgot what brand it was already. Some Chinese dude name.
|Question: I saw your fb and saw that you have the “fun-sized” grapes in one of the photos.. I visit one of the fruit stores near my house whenever I want to get the good stuff. All their fruits are more expensive but they are fresh and sweet. Every store owner usually advertises their fruits as sweet but this one proved to be true. I hope the younger crowd will also learn to go to your store and figure out those at NTUC are sometimes mass imported (don’t taste as nice)..|
|Answer: The funniest thing I hear:
EH YOU KNOW THAT DAY I GO NTUC BUY FRUITS WAH VERY FRESH AND GOOD
|Question: why i can only find the mild-tasting , long pale yellow mango.
Why nobody stocks the rounder, more intense tasting mango with donald-trump coloured flesh?
|Answer: That’s Australian(?) mangoes and they are expensive|
|Question: I always try to buy fruits from the wet market but i can get them at a cheaper price at ntuc and giant. What sets you apart from these big companies?|
|Question: What could you do to help out your Father’s business? Or people as general could do to help? I love the idea of keeping our neighbourhood wet stalls a thing, but as time goes by the younger the generation would not buy from wet market anymore..so what could you do to change the younger people’s generation perspective? Share with me your opinion|
|Answer: The business model has to change to a certain extent. But that also means it may lose the humane touch that first makes the business distinctive.|
|Question: Tell us what are the benefits in buying from a stall like yours vs ntuc?|
|Question: Do you see this as a long term career?
What are some of the challenges you feel are distinct to your job?
|Answer: Of course not lol. The main challenge is to swallow the fact that this is a menial job that zaps you of your soul|
|Question: I see people knocking the watermelon. Why?|
|Answer: To see if it’s good for eating or not. Comb the replies for expert advice.|
|Question: That’s what I hoped! Maybe mention your stall, guess you would get a lot of new customers after your ama 🙂|
|Answer: No; not going to monetise this AMA.|
|Question: which time of the year is best to buy certain fruits?|
|Answer: Tiger time|
|Question: I dunno have it been asked yet. How do fruit stalls hang bananas unguarded overnight without fear of them getting stolen? Security cameras or plan faith in humanity?|
|Answer: Each stall has shutters la, of course the stall owners will shift the bananas into the stall and lock up|
|Question: not sure whether this is sensitive, but how much on average does a fruit stall earn a month?|
|Answer: I’ve answered this question earlier – our earnings are comfortable enough to survive in one of the world’s most expensive cities|
|Question: I am curious ah – what happens to those fruits that are not sold?|
|Answer: What is your definition of ‘not sold’?|
|Question: I love the humour on the FB’s post.
I know your are not suppose to promote your stall, but shouldn’t it be wise to an address to it?
|Answer: It’s for me to practise social media content curation. No intention to monetise it|
|Question: my mom and me enjoyed dragon fruits alot, how do i know which is a good one, and how do i know the meat inside is purple or white|
|Answer: Must feel that it’s firm and not mushy. Weight falls into your palms. Purple ones are darker in colour. Tips be yellowish.
Best way – just ask. We don’t bite
|Question: A thought to monetise papayas better … When I was in Brazil, they served this drink called Papaya cream. It was heavenly. I think it is blending a fresh papaya and vanilla ice cream into a milk shake like drink.
I don’t see folks selling here… Perhaps a chance to take the market here ?
|Answer: I’d have to rent a hawker stall for this|
|Question: Do you see yourself doing this job 10 years later?|
|Answer: I don’t know if the business, or to say, wet markets will exist 10 years later|
|Question: Do you, as a result of your profession, eat more fruits?|
|Answer: Eat until scared|
|Question: Recommendations (most bang-for-buck in terms of nutrition) for somebody who frequently constipates a lot?|
|Question: Glad to see young ppl still doing this kind of thing. Let’s partner and start a hipster farmers market for the millennial|
|Answer: You do know that we will most likely end up starving right|
|Question: Is the wet market under HDB? How much rental does your family pay every month?
Speaking of ownership, that reminds me of the news that Sheng Siong buying some wet markets years ago… assuming it wants to purchase the wet market, would you want your family to continue the business?
|Answer: Wet markets are under NEA. A stall’s rental is approximately $300-400 every month.
|Question: cheap fruit protip: Go to Singapore General Hospital on Tuesdays and Thursday’s . Whole day they selling fruit at temporary stalls throughout the hospital. Academia building and Eye Center building.
Wait till nearly 4.30 or 5 and the fruit sellers getting ready to pack up and go.
Go in and lowball them. Profit.
|Answer: You know what happens when you lowball the fruit uncles and aunties? If me I’ll prolly throw your fruits into the plastic bag. You end up with cheap and bruised fruits. Customers who lowball are fucking cheapskate and unethical. No doubt we will want to clear stock as much as possible but that’s no reason for you to lowball. Please don’t lowball. We are just trying to make a honest living.|
|Question: What’s your store’s average monthly revenue?
What are your margins like?
|Answer: Comb the replies.|
|Question: How do you guys handle unsold fruits?|
|Answer: Continue selling unless they cui|
|Question: Yep the cui ones. Thanks.|
|Answer: Am thinking|
|Question: Where sia ur fruits stall|
|Answer: You need not specially visit my fruit stall, just head down to the wet market nearest to you|
|Question: Not sure if you will see this comment but are there any memorable encounters with customers that you can remember?|
|Answer: I think I mentioned 3 incidents in previous replies but ima add more
1. One who whispered to her child “don’t be like her in the future” while gesturing to me
|Question: Have you considered in specialising in say, durian, rather than a wide range of fruits? It reduces the range of your suppliers and you have a fairly stable clientele, with not as intense competition from NTUC…|
|Answer: I have had enough dealing with pineapple thorns. Not feasible given the limited storage space we have|
|Question: Do you ever make interesting fruit combination sets for sale like one banana, two rambutans and a complimentary bird’s nest ?|
|Answer: No, we are far too busy to come up with these wayang|
|Question: Can someone explain hookups in general? Youve only met the person for like an hour then you have sex liao wtf?? There’s so much risks isnt there?|
|Answer: It’s difficult for me to answer your question when I’m no psychology/sociology expert. I am a marketer and a fruits seller… Anyone can help this soul here?|
|Question: Im a fan of le ‘powdery’ apples, always seem to be random and inconsistent between brands. Im gona assume its just some weird mutation with the apple. Any telltale signs of an apple that is ‘powdery’?|
|Answer: Buy China Fuji la|
|Question: I have a question that comes in quite late, hope you can answer it…
does your business buy from NTUC or SS fruits to resell when they are running promotions?
everytime see them put up signs like, limited to 6 per customers, citing they do not want people to abuse the promotions..
|Answer: A big NO. We not that cheapskate.|
|Question: I think I’m pretty decent at choosing watermelons, so I’ll weigh in!
For juiciness, slap the watermelon. You don’t want those with a hollower sound. You can also physically weigh the watermelons.
For sweetness, look for watermelons with big white patches. The soils are acidic (I think). Watermelons which are harvested after they’ve been there for a long time (i.e riper) will be discoloured.
|Answer: Thank you for this, because I’m totally hopeless in choosing watermelons.|
|Question: 紅毛榴槤 is naturally a more well endowed fruit, it costs more because of its succulent white flesh that is prized by locals|
|Answer: The price has gone up by $4 over the past 2 years. Go figure.|
|Question: Also interested in this question! Regardless of price, would you say you offer a better quality product than the supermarket? (Which shouldn’t be difficult since most their products taste like water)|
|Question: I used to poke the cut watermelons in wet market when i was young until the stall owner chided me. Since then i realised i was ruining their business and stopped. I understand what you mean when you say this|
|Answer: Thank you for stopping your antics so we the wet market stall owners can buy extra chicken rice|
|Question: IM SORRYYYY OK
My nails always grow fast, not even 3 week then mother will nag to cut. So sometimes i hold fruit i accidentally pinch them… had to explain to my mother why one time nearly drop fruit then end up got ‘claw mark’
|Answer: Hold with your fingers and not your nails|
|Question: What do you do when you see them poking fruits? Do you tell them to stop on the first poke?|
|Answer: Death glare. If they don’t stop, I tell them off.|
|Question: Anything else other than selling fruits in the market? I.e. other revenue streams?|
|Answer: Have some thoughts. Am calculating investments now|
|Question: I buy bruised fruits, milk that expiring soon etc because i feel sayang imagine they are being thrown away soon. I not dare to tell people because I scared they say I stupid.|
|Answer: We need more people like you.|
|Question: Discount bin concept, does it work?|
|Answer: Works to a certain extent|
|Question: Would juice stalls buy these bruised fruits since no customer will see them anyways? Taste same, used quickly, no? Maybe could make some discount deal with some.|
|Answer: Fruit juice stalls have their respective suppliers.|
|Question: If we specifically ask to purchase the bruised fruits/vegetables, will have discount a not?|
|Question: When people ask what is the thing that you like to eat the most, do you say jiak jua?|
|Answer: Nope, I say I jiak tau foo.
That being said the market we are at houses one kickass Yong tau foo
|Question: cool thanks man|
|Answer: Can always check with the friendly stallholders|
|Question: I’m always a big fan of apples, my favorite ones are the New Zealand Jazz Apple. What’s yours?|
|Answer: New Zealand Rose apples|
|Question: Oh man, what time does your dad go to sleep? That’s a 16 hour work day.|
|Question: You have a regular job during the week?|
|Answer: Yes, Marketer by profession.|
|Question: Wow! More than 12 hours of work!|
|Answer: Yes, and most of your time is spent in preparation. Of course we take breaks in between; but only enough for a breather given the workload|
|Answer: Eh hello you think the pineapple papaya jackfruit watermelon auto cut one is it. Apples and pears in packets are packed by hand leh.
It takes freaking 30-45 minutes to deshell a Jackfruit.
|Question: Good for you. I used to work retail at a flower shop and the aunties that would do that e.g. compare prices to cold storage l/ntuc/ NURSERY made my blood boil|
|Answer: I feel for you so much|
|Question: Are there supermarkets near the wet market?|
|Answer: There is a NTUC opposite the wet market.|
|Question: You really did that to (potential) customers, telling them to gtfo?|
|Answer: Potential customer: wah so expensive NTUC cheaper and bigger size somemore
Me: you see opposite the shopping centre? Ok you cross the road, go up the stairs, walk straight straight, walk all the way in, ok you see NTUC right? Go there buy lor
|Question: Have you ever tried explaining to them the intricacies of economies of scale and how big businesses are killing the mom-and-pop stores? And how a personalised gtfo, as opposed to a blank stare from the cashier, is invaluable in this increasingly faceless digital world we live in?|
|Answer: I think a few do understand because they head to NTUC, only to return and buy fruits from me. Lan lan suck thumb.|
|Question: Post bod pic,!|
|Answer: Kena stroke from shock|
|Question: What do you mean by changing consumer behaviour? Is it the fruits people are buying or where they are shopping?|
|Answer: Where they are shopping|
|Question: Pls do! You will never work for the man again.|
|Question: How can you tell if the watermelon has that powdery texture on the inside?|
|Answer: Abang, our eyes not x-ray la|
|Question: Punked like how? Inside rotten, or thick shell with very little meat?|
|Answer: Jackfruit: eh uncle I smell quite nice, can cut
* My father cuts it open *
Jackfruit: I’m not ripe and tasty yet hehehe
|Question: (Not living in singapore) this is surprising, I’d have guessed that some delivery options would work so well in Singapore?|
|Answer: It would aka ubereats but we’re a small business. Delivery is premium operating cost.|
|Question: Honest I would pay extra for delivery from a small business that actually picks the fruits and is careful. Ordering fruits from redmart is complete chance either you get completely unripe stuff or you get crushed bananas at the bottom, pineapple on top. 😦|
|Answer: The latter will happen if the small business outsources its delivery to couriers. But the small business has inadequate resources for delivery.|
|Question: But Such stuff exists in China|
|Answer: You go China buy fruits lor|
|Question: Ok this is my nonsense observation as a consumer. If there are new residents with money near your market you need to be known for selling expensive fruits. It’s going to be tough for a while but rich people like expensive fruits. They will buy it. If your area is mainly aging, what sells are prayer type fruits. (but my market sellers are trying to reach the buyers of expensive fruit and veg)|
|Answer: We sell prayer type fruits with the occasional premiums|
|Question: It’s odd and they dunno what they are missing. I grew up in a old estate and still go back there. The fruits from the wet market are way better than the stuff at NTUC.|
|Answer: It’s always convenience + price war|
|Question: Grapes are considered premium fruits? TIL.|
|Answer: 1kg $10. Premium?|
|Answer: From a marketing perspective I’d be inclined to agree with you, but my father would slap the living daylights out of you because you’re creating more and unnecessary work for him. He works on average 12 hour workdays.
Wet Market license does not allow us to sell fruit juice, only hawker stalls can
|Question: > But there were parents who viewed me with disdain, one even whispering to her kids “don’t be like her in the future”.
I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but shiiiit. As if love and fulfillment have no meaning.
HOW YOU DOIN’?
|Answer: I’m doing good, thank you|
|Question: past employment speak hokkien. SAF? /s|
|Answer: No, I happened to work in an environment where Hokkien was the dialect mostly used to converse with colleagues and customers|
|Question: which market u at? pm me and i will come down and buy some banana|
|Answer: This is not meant to monetise my family business… I would be happier if you could buy your bananas at the wet market nearest to you.|
|Question: Thanks buddy, you cool.
Any thoughts about the long-term survivability of being a fruit-stall owner?
You’ve mentioned earlier that the younger generation favours places like Sheng Siong/Fairprice, and that your clientele isn’t getting any larger. Any ideas as to where to go next?
* Running a more client-supplier sort of service without a physical storefront?
|Answer: I have discussed with my father about this and figured out that such expansions or diversification be too exhaustive on our resources. The wet market is something that is left behind; I find it sad that such heritage – a big part of the Singaporean life we grew up is not treasured and conserved. What makes the wet market so special is the humane touch – customers cheerfully greeting me ‘ah mooi today come help ah’ and my father upon seeing the regulars, scurrying off to the back to bring out the fruits he has set aside for them.
We do bring in upmarket and premium fruits but we end up not making money due to high costs. These fruits perish even faster in Singapore’s climate. Every spoilt fruit is a loss.
We have been in this neighbourhood since its beginning. Wouldn’t want to be displaced from our roots.
|Question: Not parent but white. Never ripped off in sg yet, which is a joy compared to indo and thai. In fact the opposite – had to correct restaurant person’s math a few times and end up paying them more. Given one discount ever, which was 5c
Been refused service though.
|Answer: Just don’t be rude and explain to the fruits uncles/aunties slowly and in simple English if you want specific fruits.|
|Question: True, but you did mention your profits are getting leaner right? Must’ve been a concern, no? Did your parents ever talk you out of continuing the business, or were they more insistent you carry on the tradition?|
|Answer: Profits leaner due to rising costs, inevitable, I would say. Well my father talked me out of continuing the business, and I do not have much motivation to continue the business. Last resort.. Working averagely 12 hour workdays is a killer.|
|Question: I checked my belly button, bo orange leh.|
|Answer: Ask fruit uncle/auntie for sunkist orange|
|Question: nz rose apples are lovely.|
|Answer: I’ll try to sneak one home every time we sell them|
|Question: So you do curate your stock?|
|Answer: Yes. For example, for apples and pears that we sell in packets of 6, those that aren’t aesthetically appealing are set aside, most ending up in trash.|
|Question: You still make a fair bit, I suppose. I’d support a local business over the corporate Cold Storages of the world. All the best.
An off topic question, if you do not mind: I’ve recently had a craving for chestnuts. Do you know any place I can get them raw?
|Answer: As I said, what we earn is comfortable enough to survive in Singapore. Kannina don’t sabo leh later everyone go open fruit stall I die
Water chestnuts or those roasted chest nuts? Try the bigger wet markets
|Question: Yes the round ones!|
|Answer: To be very blunt and honest, don’t buy those which the skin is greenish yellow. Buy those that are pastel light yellow|
|Question: Thank you. And Just one more question, which banana brand is the best? I prefer del monte, but is there anything better?|
|Answer: I sell bananas but I can’t eat bananas – one would have me end up camping in the toilet. My regulars love pisang berangan or pisang rastali. If you like Del Monte, rastali may suit you|
|Question: That must really suck. Usually at my market pre CNY brings the craziest crowd and those fruits sellers also sell until very very late|
|Answer: We don’t just work very late during Chinese New Year. We are at the store 24 hours; my father pulls the shutters down and catches a wink at the back.|
|Question: What about if the watermelon is cut and wrapped nicely.
Redder = sweeter or pale pink = sweeter?
Im not testing you dont get me wrong. I’m just prepping myself so i can look smart infront of my wife.
|Answer: Redder = sweeter. Bright red and not dark red as per blood clot|
|Question: interesting. i never thought of it that way. Cold Storage is really turning me off by offering inferior fruits to its unsuspecting customers. i really hope to get a reliable source of fresh good quality food. At least i pay a premium and get good value.|
|Answer: How much of a premium are you willing to pay?|
|Question: I don’t like tart apples, either. Ambrosia has just a hint of tartness, and I find that refreshing.
Thanks for the AMA, and good luck with the business.
|Answer: Thank you for participating 🙂|
|Question: Where’s the market? if it’s nearby me, i can go try out.|
|Answer: You can visit the wet market nearest to you|
|Question: I seem to think not many young people appreciate a good fruit nowadays. Perhaps they’re more satisfied with just the plain ol vanilla type of fruits. Always can use a good pomelo so if you do have that particular stock, would be more than glad to try.
Wonder if schools will consider taking bruised fruits because I definitely feel you when you mentioned wastage. I think Singapore is a pretty wasteful country not just in terms of fruits but a lot of stuff like the basic food and the works that just can’t get sold by end of the day.
|Answer: I personally think organic composting is the way to go. New lease of life|
|Question: Is it… the bananas I see hanging around were in plain sight!|
|Answer: I don’t know about that, but don’t take those bananas…|
|Question: Like leftover for the day or after few days|
|Answer: We continue selling if still in good condition.|
|Question: Ever considered donating them to the zoo or the less fortunates? Thanks for the reply.|
|Answer: You mean the cui ones right? Yes am thinking|
|Question: Ya, I buy bruised fruits too, it’s a waste to throw them away, but milk? I dun dare, lol.|
|Answer: Milk be more risky. For milk near expiry dates I use them to make cream sauce for pasta.|
|Question: If you can get your hands on Eve Apples they’re so good; big, sweet and crunchy with just the right amount of tartness!|
|Answer: Will look out for them|
|Question: If they understand such things they wouldn’t be making noise over minor differences in price.|
|Answer: Overwhelming majority don’t|
|Answer: I have no idea how cheap promotion prices at supermarkets can be.|
|Question: No worries. It is literally the only thing I can choose well. I can’t even make good life choices.
|Answer: You free to come help out at my stall?|
|Question: Yeah. Most times it looks paler though
Not sure about the other 2 :p
|Answer: Once again, our eyes not x-ray|
|Question: Your comment makes me wish there’s an AMA from a joss paper shop owner/son…|
|Answer: That would be interesting|
|Question: It’s not only that, imo. I feel that wet market has the kampong spirit if that makes sense? I like the interaction with the sellers and once you know them, they would recommend you the good stuff etc etc. You don’t get this in supermarkets.|
|Answer: Yes but it seems that wet markets are losing|
|Question: I prefer to go for local bananas. The small one (pisang mas) is sweet, with thin skin. Pisang merah (red bananas) also nice, but hard to come across. They used to fruit at my parent’s house, or neighbours would give us extras.|
|Answer: We have pisang Merah in stock occasionally|
|Question: I learnt to use my palms….
After about ~10 years of semi ruined fruit.
Again I’m sorry to all the fruit sellers
|Answer: It’s ok I love you|
|Question: You’ve probably answered already. Ever thought of doing a bit of B2B deliveries? There’s a pretty big market out there for fruits being delivered to the office, at least within the vicinity of your shop.|
|Answer: Resources resources resources|
|Question: When you are feeling constipated, do you tell other people that you jiak pa bo sai pang?|
|Answer: No I’ll just eat a banana and camp in the toilet for the next few days|
|Question: smith street?|
|Answer: No. Stall is located in an old neighbourhood where birds would think thrice about flying over there.|
|Question: Who’s tofu you want to eat?|
|Answer: Tom Hiddleston’s tau foo would be nice…|
|Question: how to tell if stallholders are friendly and not ‘angry’?|
|Answer: They are friendly always.|
|Question: Jesus. Your father is a much more disciplined, hardworking man than I could ever be. Respect|
|Answer: He’s a man of steel|
|Question: You ever think about how you could use modern marketing techniques to help the fruit business?|
|Answer: I have thought of it.|
|Question: lol relax leh its a AMA then u so fierce..|
|Answer: I’m so sorry will you like to have a green Apple? 50 cents no discount and pay by cash thanks|
|Answer: Just being the snarky auntie at the Stall, don’t mind me.|
|Question: WOW big ups and respect to this. Tbh I never knew. I appreciate this so much!!! I’m a fan of fruit stores, I hate buying from super markets haha!|
|Answer: Be nice to all fruit uncles and aunties out there. Damn tough work.|
|Question: What are your long term plans for the stall?
Especially in the face of digital commerce and larger supermarkets.
|Answer: No long term plans as of now; we just continue to run the business|
|Question: I like your attitude|
|Answer: Thank you.
I’m not well liked irl though
|Question: lol…Somehow, I can just imagine you saying that with a grin.|
|Answer: It’s even harder than cracking my brains to deal with office politics.|
|Answer: ‘sealing’ doesn’t really help… Contamination worries. We still sell the fruits and be frank to customers that it isn’t up to standard.|
|Question: …which you can charge to customers? I’m very sure that customers would understand if they have to pay a delivery fee if they choose to order online and have it delivered. If it’s not cost effective to deliver to only one person, maybe have deliveries set to every x-day of the week so you can do a one-shot delivery to everyone. Just food for thought I guess. I’d like to know why this is something that many stall holders don’t adopt, apart from being difficult to set up in the first place|
|Answer: Simple: additional workload + troublesome|
|Question: I’m thinking premium like durians.|
|Answer: We have had enough dealing with pineapple thorns. Not going to handle durians|
|Question: sry i got excited when i read “her”|
|Answer: Don’t get too excited. I’m sized UK10, the auntie at the wet market leh|
|Question: Oi write an article for Straits Times already la, surely will get published one. Résumé power + publicity for your dad.|
|Answer: My English is not that great yet, and my father is quite shy.|
|Question: That’s good talk – thanks for taking my questions seriously.
I came in some sense from the perspective of someone who lived in Tokyo for a bit; fruit parlors were a thing there since people have the mindset that fruits = dessert. That said their quality is really something also lah, but still. I was thinking if you’d actually expand/diversify into the F&B/cafe sort of retail thing too, but you’re right – it’s a resource drain.
I wholly agree – it’s a damn shame that things like wet markets are dying out, but it’s a little hypocritical of me since I barely go to wet markets and do my groceries only when I have time at night, and that means Fairprice loh bo pian one.
I hope you stay in business for awhile longer! I want to write about you (and the wet market business) someday.
|Answer: My father will run the business for as long as he can. He’s a very active Lao Ah Beng.|
|Question: What if you sell your fruits like ang mo fruit markets? Place the fruits in angled boxes, to pretend have the illusion that they are full. Place clear signage with the fruit name, fruit source, local, organic, short description. Can get some wood pallets to make the racks, bam. Instant atas. Maybe reduce working hours|
|Answer: Bro we are in a old neighbourhood where sales peak during Pre CNY and 14th/end of every lunar month. My regulars are uncles and aunties. Being atas only scares them away.|
|Question: Ever thought of donating to places that could utilize these fruits? I mean they’re still edible. Maybe homes or reselling to the zoo at lower prices.|
|Answer: I can consider that|
|Question: So the lighter the better?|
|Answer: Yellow, not lighter|
|Question: Thanks bro…|
|Answer: I don’t have a wee wee but it’s ok I’m a bro to everyone|
|Question: ok i’ll earn some husband points with that info.
|Answer: If you see the watermelon wedge darker at the rind, better choose another wedge|
|Question: I remembered I did pay $4 per Envy apple. I’m really price inelastic when it comes to fruits because if I don’t get them, my substitute would be ice cream which costs more and less healthy.
But I stop at those $65-$200 rock melons unless the Queen of England is visiting.
|Answer: I see a market niche with people the likes of you but to be honest my resources are at stake|
|Question: If they xiao pi qi, flirt with them
Call them shuai ge or mei nu
|Answer: We have a pro here|
|Question: only if you give me a uniform that says “watermelon specialist”|
|Answer: Can la I give you wear apron with ‘watermelon specialist’ printed on it|
|Question: Usually when people order fruits from online for delivery, they order from redmart tho. (my office did at least). Difficult for a small wet market stall to compete with redmart that is always available.
Also different clientele lah. Wet market fruit stalls mostly serve aunties (and uncles) who go to the wet market to buy other groceries too. People who order fruit online and get them delivered usually different bunch.
So like no point leh.
|Question: Just a really wild idea. Maybe provide some colourful signs providing the pros of each different fruit. And also maybe turn it onto a hybrid fruit juice store? Might need a license for that though. All i am saying is, instead of whitling away, try to diversify or do something radical.|
|Answer: Bro most of my customers will not appreciate that.. It’ll scare them away.|
|Question: I know what I’m missing out on, unfortunately ntuc is walking distance for me and wet market need to take bus 😦 I wish I could go get fresh veggies also|
|Answer: Bullseye on this|
|Question: Hire someone to be the delivery person. Gotta invest something to see whether it works. But I suppose it’s easier said than done.|
|Answer: You paying for it? Sure.|
|Question: Use such kinds of milk for fermenting purposes. I bought some kefir grains on carousell and use near-expiry milk to make kefir regularly. Side benefits are such that I don’t rly buy sour cream or yoghurt much anymore.
So long as the beneficial bacteria crowd out the entire medium (milk) and the pH levels are altered through fermentation to become inhospitable to bad bacteria, it should be safe for consumption. I’m not dead yet at the very least.
|Answer: Ah thanks for the heads up|
|Question: I love this op|
|Question: What about their thoughts on laying eggs there?
That’s the important one.
|Answer: The birds have to think hard and deep for this; it’d be a good training ground for the younglings to gain some life skills|
|Question: ok only if you give 2 free grapes.|
|Answer: 2 grapes ah not 2 packets of grapes|
|Question: Is the address on Facebook accurate?? Prolly not right… Hahaha|
|Answer: Lol I’ve never meant for the Facebook page to generate any revenue. Fake address|
|Question: What about delivery? Or bringing your products closer?
Lots of companies have fruits day.
|Answer: Resources resources resources|
|Question: You’re not alone:/|
|Answer: It’s ok I have my teddy bear to join us|
|Question: > The wet market is something that is left behind; I find it sad that such heritage – a big part of the Singaporean life we grew up is not treasured and conserved. What makes the wet market so special is the humane touch – customers cheerfully greeting me ‘ah mooi today come help ah’ and my father upon seeing the regulars, scurrying off to the back to bring out the fruits he has set aside for them.
I think you might be underselling yourself. This bit is what I wanna see spread to the wider public, including the bit about the parents who tell their children not to be like you when they grow up.
You’ll need an editor, sure. But you’re not a shitty writer, mainly because you have something you feel deeply about 🙂
No pressure though, writing is a shit gig :p
|Answer: >No pressure though, writing is a shit gig :p
As a corporate communications executive I wholly agree on this
|Question: I want to buy fruits from him but I doubt he’ll doxx himself.|
|Answer: Her. Not about doxxing myself, but this AMA isn’t intended for monetisation. Buy from the wet markets close to you|
|Question: Mhm, I agree. I’d read an entire article like that. Those who dont usually step into a wet market wouldn’t be aware of this ‘wet-market experience’. I think an article on the life of a wet market stall helper would be an interesting read.|
|Answer: I’ll consider about this|
|Answer: Nope. Nowhere near|