It was truly love at first sight. Beyond the dusty exterior lies an original shop with its flooring in its original condition. I felt transported back to Singapore in the 50s. The real estate agent told us it used to be an old provision shop called Hua Tong Yew Kee that lasted 60 years until the owners decided to retire last year. Since then, many people have viewed but did not find it suitable. It was too old and "original" and prospective tenants were daunted by the work needed.
I closed my eyes and saw a different future. Besides the stark white washed walls which i wished they had kept in the original condition, this was perfect for what i had in mind. An old school provision shop where old meets new and east meets west.
According to the owner, when they bought it, east coast park beach was just behind. This was before the land reclamation works was done where the current Marine Terrace HDB Flats stand. I can totally imagine the days where kids would run through the provision shop and through the fields swaying with tall lallang and fly kites at the at the beach as it must have been really breezy.
Strange thing it is but it is still breezy. The high ceilings and the window panels at the top made for perfect air ventilation, before the days of Air Conditioning. I can picture a retro setup with old mid century furniture, a provision shop counter, old kopitiam tables and chairs and vintage chinese oldies playing in the background. Truly Traditional and Authentic experience, we want it to be real Old old, not New old.
The icing on the cake had to be the address. 288 East Coast Road. Call me old school but the number closed the deal. Add to the fact our sauce brewery is 18 Chin Bee Avenue, this was a sign from above that this had to be the place for the greatest Nanyang show.
Original Provision Shop signboard gifted to us by the landlord when he heard of what we want to do and felt that he wanted to support us! We were very touched as it must have meant a lot to him
Before and some photos of work in progress. We were racing against time. We signed the lease on 1st January 2018 and aimed to complete before 1st Feb 2018. We started with painting and rebuilding the track on which the hinged metal door ran as the old one was totally rusted.
Next, we started searching for furniture that were authentic and old and fit together. These weren't factory made, but furniture that were handed down from grandparents to parents to children and the question was how to convince them to part with them for a reasonable fee. From Bukit Timah to Ang Mo Kio to Sembawang, we went around Singapore and spoke to collectors, visited vintage shops, garage sales, home clearance shops and in the process, learnt about the many stories that accompany each unique piece of furniture.
This is a one-of a kind old HDB mailbox, it once collected many loveletters and remember how we look forward and anticipated Mr Postman delivering our letters. I fondly remember writing to my distant relative in China and waiting for 2 weeks for their reply. Much different from my email inbox i dread to open.
The grill came from an old HDB window grill and it became a partition
In the process, we had much fun and discovered so much about our forefathers! Such as peddling an old tricycle back to our shop, restoring it to its original pride and glory. Once belonging to a family in boat quay and used it to transport and peddle rice!
I enjoyed learning about basic carpentry and fixing up some wooden racks for these ceramic vats specially customized to house sauces for our private clientele
The biggest pride and joy must be to see our signboard hoisted up after weeks of hard work. We are now set for our soft launch on 4th Feb 2018 which is Li Chun, meaning the start of Spring Festival.