Going into the food business is always a gamble, whether it’s a fine-dining restaurant or a home-based operation.
Sadly though, not all gambles pay off.
Just ask hawkers Teo Ah Bee and Lee Gay Lee.
Two months after winding up their hawker stall and pivoting to a home-based business, the elderly min jiang kueh (peanut pancake) hawkers have decided to call it a day.
Speaking to AsiaOne, Ah Bee said that he and his wife Gay Lee were retiring due to insufficient customers.
“There has been less customers since everyone is dining out. I’m earning less than $30 a day. I don’t even make $50 over three days of business.”
In addition, the 75-year-old hawker – who has been operating out of his one-room rental flat – cited his ulu location as a reason for low sales.
Currently, customers must call a day in advance to place an order and only self pick-up is available.
Delivery, however, is out of the question. Ah Bee told 8days that his pancakes are “too inexpensive to justify delivery costs”.
He currently sells his kueh (red bean, peanut or coconut) for a dollar a piece, while keeping premium flavours affordable between $1.30 (cheese or egg) and $1.50 (ham or creamed corn).
Ah Bee told AsiaOne that he has not increased his price as “a way of appreciation for his customers”. He added that many could not afford to pay higher prices and he “didn’t want to cause his customers any grief”.
Food wastage is also another problem that Ah Bee faced with the low volume of customers, resulting in the hawker having to pour away the unsold perishable ingredients like his pancake batter, red bean paste and shredded coconut filling.
“I had to pour the batter away when I cannot finish selling it, and it was such a waste. But I have to do it in order to make sure that everything is fresh.”
Add to that the fact that Ah Bee and Gay Lee aren’t exactly the most tech-savvy people around, making it a real challenge for them to market their business on social media or even accept digital payments.
Thus, after some considerations, the elderly couple shared with us, “Why continue when things are so difficult? We are so old already”.
Outlining his plan to wind down the home-based business, Ah Bee stated that he “will stop selling min jiang kueh after his last bag of flour is used up”. He reportedly has enough flour to last till next Tuesday (Nov 29).
Previously, Ah Bee was selling his handmade kueh out of his Buangkok Crescent stall before the landlord downsized his space, making it too cramped for him to operate.
ALSO READ: From hawker stall to home-based business: Elderly couple now sell $1 min jiang kueh out of their 1-room flat in Buangkok
He wounded up his stall at the end of August and started his home-based business out of his home with Gay Lee after his customers floated the idea to him.
Following in his family’s footsteps, Ah Bee has been making min jiang kueh for over six decades.
Contact: 89475069 (Please call a day in advance to place orders. Only self pick-up option available.)
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