Old school Holland Village party shop Khiam Teck to close end June Lifestyle


Are you in the market for a bag of five stones or Kuti-Kuti to relive your childhood? What about card games, like Donkey, Old Maid, Happy Family and Snap? Or perhaps you have considered purchasing a cardboard game of Snakes and Ladders, a packet of plastic safari animals, a pinata fashioned to look like a…

Are you in the market for a bag of five stones or Kuti-Kuti to relive your childhood? What about card games, like Donkey, Old Maid, Happy Family and Snap? Or perhaps you have considered purchasing a cardboard game of Snakes and Ladders, a packet of plastic safari animals, a pinata fashioned to look like a mermaid or fire engine, or several dozen foil balloons.

Come July, it may be a tad harder to find these traditional thingamajigs in Singapore.Old school party store Khiam Teck in Holland Village, which now stocks these nostalgic knick-knacks, will roll down its shutters on Jun 30, wrapping up a family business that pre-dates World War II.

The store, which is currently run by a pair of second-generation siblings, will make way for a new tenant around mid-July.

Unlike other old-timey businesses that have been defeated by rising rent, Khiam Teck’s unit along Holland Avenue is owned by the family.There is no landlord chasing them out, they told CNA Lifestyle on Monday (May 13) when we visited the Holland Village institution following a tip-off that it was closing.

Rather, the store has simply seen a sharp fall in customers in recent years, resulting in a family decision to close shop.

Business is “very poor”, said one of its owners and storekeepers, Mr Ang Cheng Hai.The 75-year-old admitted the shop could see about 100 customers every day pre-COVID, but that figure has since dwindled to 10 – if they’re lucky.”Ho w can survive?”

Packets of plastic animals sold at Khiam Teck along Holland Avenue.(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) Most customers come to Khiam Teck for their balloons.(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) With Khiam Teck set to close, the last vestiges of OG Holland Village might soon be gone.

Earlier this month, Thambi Magazine Store along Lorong Liput in Holland Village triggered a public outpouring of sadness and shock when its owner, Sam, told CNA Lifestyle about the iconic newsstand’s closure .The family business had been around since the 1940s, and was a well-loved fixture in the neighbourhood.

Thambi’s final days brought customers from across the island , many of whom had spent their younger years getting lost in the extensive selection of magazines.

Sam had also hinted that he was looking for a new spot to rehome his magazine business.

Children’s toys at Khiam Teck along Holland Avenue.(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) Bubble blowers along with a pinata on a shelf in Khiam Teck.

(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) Card games sold at Khiam Teck.(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) DWINDLING CUSTOMERS

Mr Ang and his sister – who runs day-to-day operations with him and who only wanted to be known as Mdm Ang – spent their childhood in the store, opened and owned by their late father.

Back in the day, Khiam Teck also sold furniture and hardware, among other bits and bobs.Some leftover items, such as a wooden high chair for babies and porcelain tea sets, were still in stock on Monday afternoon.

While their regular bestsellers these days are party balloons, Halloween and the Mid-Autumn Festival used to mean a greater influx of customers than usual.The store is known for adorning its shopfront with cellophane lanterns.

An array of olden-day children’s toys in Khiam Teck.(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) But the boom of e-commerce, particularly post-COVID, has resulted in a “very quiet” store within the last two years.Weekends are especially empty, Mdm Ang shared in Mandarin, although she doesn’t quite know “where customers disappeared to”.

“Last time, customers will bring their children here.

Now I don’t see children coming to buy toys or items for their birthdays,” she said.

” We’ve been here for so many decades.So if customers come nowadays…they tend to come here via recommendation from friends, like someone even came from Tampines.I’m very grateful that some longtime customers remembered our store.”

Having run the family business for over 30 years herself, Mdm Ang said she has seen customers grow up.Some used to patronise the shop with their children – who now have children of their own.Others have moved to another end of the island, such as Woodlands, but still make the occasional trip back to Khiam Teck.

The 66-year-old is considering moving the remaining stock to her home in Lakeside, after the store closes.Customers who require pinatas and the like may put in requests with the shop, which she hopes to continue fulfilling.

Many customers tell her they miss “old school toys”, like five stones, she reminisced.”They tell me, ‘Aunty, I’ve been looking everywhere but I can’t find.'”

Her older brother, Mr Ang, added that “young children don’t play these kind of toys already; they play computer and handphone”.

Porcelain goods located towards the back of Khiam Teck.

(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) Colourful plastic balls and egg-shaped containers line the exterior of Khiam Teck along Holland Avenue.(Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh) FAMILY DECISION

While the whole family held several meetings before deciding on Khiam Teck’s fate together, Mdm Ang was clearly still sad about the loss.She said she initially refused to let go of the family business, which she had taken over from her late father, but eventually “had no choice”.

“My brother (Mr Ang) and I are old already.So I am slowly accepting (the decision); it’s really very hard to run this business.It’s such a waste to let go, but no one wants to take over,” she said.

A third-generation family member, who declined to be named, told CNA Lifestyle that he also felt sad about having to wind down the business, “but I guess it is part and parcel of life as my aunt and uncle are old,” he said.

“It is also time for them to enjoy and not worry about sustaining or (continuing) the family business against the competition.”

Meanwhile, Mr Ang appeared more resigned than his sister.He pointed to Thambi’s closure earlier this month as what he sees as the inevitable end to heritage businesses.

“Magazine shop and my shop, the last (ones standing).Holland Village no more old store,” he said.”(There is) no more business for this kind of shop.

Holland Village totally change already.”

Source: CNA/gy Related Topics Culture and Trends heritage Advertisement RECOMMENDED Content is loading…Advertisement Expand to read the full story Get bite-sized news via a new

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