You may have heard of how some of Singapore’s famous ‘old-time’ eateries had to close time after years, or even decades, in operation. Left behind by the fast-changing F&B industry, higher rents and the expectations that comes with the younger, more affluent and educated society, the restaurants struggled and ultimately failed to keep its heritage alive.
Among the victims include the Tong Seng Coffeeshop which rolled down its shutters for the last time late last year and the Nasi Padang River Valley restaurant that served its last customer 3 months ago. Both eateries have a tradition of more than 70 years combined.
Nonetheless, one veteran business establishment is looking forward to turn its fortune around by embracing a digital tool used by youths today. Opened in July 1967, Sin Kong Ming Hair Salon has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, raising funds to “sustain (its) business and … seek new growth”.
The description on its Indiegogo campaign page says: “As the core and pioneer of the original Tiong Bahru settlers, it is disheartening to see so many original shops that had closed down to make way for cafes and F&B outlets. Service business like ours need to survive to maintain the charm of the area and to serve the needs of the residents.
“It is a continual challenge as we face escalating rental and other costs … By donating to us, you are helping to preserve the original Tiong Bahru charm.”
It is not known exactly what led Sin Kong Ming to resort to raising funds online. Nonetheless, a quick check by this Vulcan Post writer showed that higher rental prices could be a cause – for example, the Hong Kong Jin Tian Eating House located just opposite the Tiong Bahru Market saw rental rise 50%, from S$8,000 to S$12,000. Sin Kong Ming sits at Kim Tian Road, a few metres away from the famous market too.
Polytechnic graduate Celeste Lee said that although she could emphatise with how older stalls or businesses are being replaced by their more hip alternatives such as cafes, she wondered if having a crowdfunding appeal would help much, especially in preserving the Tiong Bahru culture.
“I dont know how crowdfunding through sites like Indiegogo will help with this preservation of culture. How will the funds be utilised in preserving the culture? If the funds are to tide them through escalating rentals, how long will it last and where will this lead in the long run? Or if they’re using the funds for a revamp or restructuring of some sort, how true will they stay to this culture that they’re trying to retain? Will it ultimately defeat the purpose?”
“Crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo for me (at least), is where I’d like to make a donation to help support a good and promising budding idea or campaign. From what I see, I don’t think I’ve seen enough to know if I’d want to make that donation? And I am not entirely convinced that crowdfunding would help them in preserving the culture,” Celeste said.
Like any other Indiegogo campaign, Sin Kong Ming Hair Salon has a set of rewards in place for donors. The fundraising was started by hairdresser Ms June Seow on June 23. Users who donate USD$25 to the campaign is entitled to a free hair-cut. The campaign has raised USD$0 for now, with only 10 days left till deadline.