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As annual Geylang bazaar is called off for second year, vendors and customers find alternatives

SINGAPORE — With the annual Geylang Serai Hari Raya bazaar called off for the second year running, Mr Naufal Azman, 22, yearned to soak in the festive atmosphere once again.

As annual Geylang bazaar is called off for second year, vendors and customers find alternatives

Customers at the food stalls in The Grandstand at Turf City.

  • Some former Geylang bazaar vendors have set up shop in a mini bazaar at The Grandstand
  • Others have found a new home in East Village
  • Some merchants are now selling their wares on Facebook Live and other social media platforms

 

SINGAPORE — With the annual Geylang Serai Hari Raya bazaar called off for the second year running, Mr Naufal Azman, 22, yearned to soak in the festive atmosphere once again.

So when he came across a post on social media of a “mini bazaar” at The Grandstand, a mall located at Turf Club Road, the distance from his home in the East could not deter him from making the trip down.

There, 21 stalls selling food and beverages, traditional kueh, clothes and electronics goods, and even a barber, have been set up since mid-March to gear up for Ramadan.

“I was really missing bazaar food, too, especially dengdeng (barbequed meat) and the classic Ramly burger,” said Mr Naufal who made the trip down with two of his friends on Thursday (April 22).

Most of the vendors there have previously been involved in the Geylang bazaar.

One of them is The Mango Float, a stall that is popular for its mango floats and Korean cheese stick snacks.

It is run by Ms Zalinah Zanial, 36, with her husband Mohamad Hussin Said, 34. They took part in the Geylang bazaar in 2018 and 2019.

“Since Covid-19 came about, there were no more pasar malams (night markets), so we thought this could be a good alternative which not only helps us (sellers), but allows people to have some ‘Ramadan feeling’, too,” she told TODAY.

The bazaar is going to be a permanent one, Ms Zalinah said, as they have signed an 18-month contract with Paradiso by HAO, which is described as a Halal concept space, with a Halal mart, F&B options and an events hall.

“You seldom see Malays in this area but now they come here. One week before Ramadan started it was quite crowded even though we only promoted our products on Facebook and social media,” she said.

“We are quite shocked because every day at 4pm, people start pouring in. We didn’t think so many people would come all the way here.”

To abide by safe distancing measures, Ms Zalinah said that they work closely with the safe distancing ambassadors. They also hired their own security personnel to ensure the rules are followed.

Ms Zalinah Zanial and her husband, Mr Mohamad Hussin, run The Mango Float at The Grandstand. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

Ms Wardah Anuar, 35, co-owner of Da Boomz, a stall that sells traditional pancakes and other desserts, said that her takings are comparable to when she took part in the bazaar in 2019.

“At first we were quite worried and sceptical because this place is a bit far out, but it’s really very busy every day,” she said.

“Last year because of circuit breaker everyone was cooped up at home so I guess now they just want to go out, even if it’s out of the way.”

Social worker Nurul Shazlyn Zuriaty Mohd Zaidi, 25, who made the trip down from her home in Sengkang with her husband on Thursday evening, said the environment was good as the bazaar is air-conditioned and everyone practises social distancing.

“Undoubtedly, these smaller-scaled bazaars can never beat the vibes we once had for many years at Geylang before Covid happened.

“Although the bazaar has a limited number of stalls, at least we finally managed to get our food fix. It has definitely helped us relive some special moments of the Geylang bazaar,” she said.

Da Boomz co-owners Wardah Anuar and Nur Suhailin Suhaimi at The Grandstand in Turf City. Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

CANNOT COMPARE TO GEYLANG

Another go-to spot this Ramadan is East Village, a mall located at Upper Changi Road, which is now home to many F&B outlets usually seen at the Geylang bazaar.

Ms Haslinah Hashim, owner of The Original Pisang Keju, said that East Village feels “a little bit like a mini bazaar this year” after more bazaar vendors took up units there in recent months.

“But it’s still quite sad. Firstly, the vibes of the actual bazaar compared to the mini bazaar are so different. And that is the only time we can double or triple our earnings,” she said. She added that her takings are not comparable to sales at the Geylang bazaar.

Ms Suryanie Ismail, 39, who owns Yummy Takoyaki, said that while the month-long bazaar is something all sellers look forward to, East Village “feels like an event on its own already”.

Mr Ahmad Syarifullah, 31, the managing director of Chulop, which sells churros, said: “With the snaking queues, the vibe is somewhat like the bazaar, just that here it is air-conditioned.”

FACEBOOK LIVE AUCTIONS

There are others who are now selling their wares online.

Mr Mohamed Mustaffa Shah Jehan, 37, sells items such as baju kurung, home decor and other necessities for Ramadan and Hari Raya on Facebook Live and other social media platforms.

He had previously been involved in organising the annual Geylang bazaar for 12 years.

“Almost every evening, we have our live sellers come to the warehouse to sell our products on their respective online platforms,” he said.

“Other regular bazaar stallholders will also supply us with their inventory.”

Still, business at the physical bazaar, where he often hires 60 to 80 employees, is far better, he said.

Other online sellers have also joined Facebook groups such as “Bazaar Ramadhan Singapore Official” and “Bazaar Ramadhan Singapore 2021”.

Housewife Kamarunisa Ab Shukoor, 36, who is selling tarts and abayas in these groups, said that business has been brisk.

“I think people are used to buying online but still, nothing beats the bazaar at Geylang,” she said.

Ms Nursaliza Osman, 34, who sells clothes as well as men’s health supplements in these groups, said: “Online bazaars are good because it's easy; people just need to choose the correct size or item and that's it, it will be delivered out. But sometimes online bazaars can be scams, too, so people must really choose wisely.”

Related topics

The Grandstand bazaar Geylang Ramadan hari raya

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