Wednesday, 7 September 2016

The essential software of neighbourhood shops

This neighbourhood shop is rather big and has bright and neat window display. Well and good. Some may not have such orderly display, but that's ok too, because the service inside is usually warm and friendly. What's important for neighbourhood shops is their software.

SOME time ago, Bharati Jadish and Keith de Souza (Talkback on radio) were getting opinions from the public on how neighbourhood shops can be improved to attract more traffic. Government has given these shops funding. Which is a good thing.

Some said window displays can be improved. Some said the goods can be better packaged. And one said there should be more promotional campaigns by these shops.

We heartlanders go to neighbourhood shops, sometimes in our pyjamas, for practical reasons -- and for a touch of warmth. So, they don't have to look like a mini Cold Storage or mini NTUC Fairprice or even a mini Seven-Eleven.

The charm of neighbourhood shops lies in their haphazard window display -- a hodgepodge of items not arranged aesthetically nor even neatly. And stepping on the tail of the shop's resident cat is all part of the happy experience  (maybe not for the cat) of shopping at a neighbourhood shop.

The wares they stock are not exactly brand names unless you count Ayam brand or Mei Ling. So I don't really care how glam their window displays are.

What do I usually get from these shops -- heavy or unwieldy stuffs like toilet rolls, washing liquids (giant sized), mops and brooms, pails, bottles of various sauces including my favourite Bull Dog brand vinegar for making trotters. You don't want to be carrying these around town while doing your shopping.

I do buy smaller things from these shops too, like Brands essence of chicken, tissue paper -- and canned drinks (which are much cheaper than those sold at coffee shops). DIY items are fantastic. A provision shop near my place also sells sliced fruits and freshly squeezed juice, so that's great. They even sell pet food. If you browse around, some actually stock a whole lot of things like needles and thread, rubber bands, raffia, face powder, hair sprays, colognes, baby powder, Panadol... the list goes on.

I know in some neighbourhoods, there are furniture shops too. That's excellent because I can lug a stool, a foldable mattress, or even a shoe rack home without having to take a cab.

These shops deserve whatever funding they can get -- and I think some of the money can go into maintaining the personal service they have been providing so well. Hopefully, this would include maintaining the health and welfare of the proprietor too -- the smiley old man sitting outside on a crate -- so that he will be around for a long time. He is so much a part of the shop and he is the best window display I can think of -- and the best promo the shop can get.

It would be a sad day if these shops are ousted out because of rising rents. They are important to our lives.