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The New Paper
Jan 26, 2023
After almost two years of rising costs, one rojak seller in Telok Blangah has called it quits.
The hawker, who goes by Andrew, told Shin Min Daily News that he made the painful decision to shut up shop for good on Chinese New Year's eve.
The 50-year-old took over the rojak stall in 2021 after the previous vendor got into an accident while working as a food delivery rider. The latter had offered to show him the ropes as he wanted to retire.
The last six months were particularly tough on Andrew due to inflation, he told Shin Min.
His monthly takings amounted to just $400 over the last two months – after deducting rental and other costs.
"Sometimes I earn only $12 a day; on a good day I get about $65," he said, adding that his operating costs had increased by about 20 per cent in recent months.
However, to keep his regular customers, Andrew said he did not increase the price of his rojak.
The single father now has a nine-year-old son to worry about. And though his ex-wife, who lives in Thailand, gives him about $1,000 monthly, it is not enough to feed the both of them.
At one point, he considered moving his stall to another location with higher footfall, but found the higher rental an obstacle.
"There was a stall for rent at a coffee shop in Toa Payoh, but the rent is $3,000 a month. I don't even dare to think about it."
In an effort to supplement his reduced income from his stall, Andrew said he worked part-time as a hotel security guard the last two months.
He would work at the hotel from 8pm to 8am the next day, then return home for a two- to three-hour nap before getting up to sell rojak.
"(That routine) was making me very tired. Sometimes I’d end up falling asleep at my stall," he said.