Translated by WINNIE CHOOI
Sin Chew Daily
SALAK SOUTH -- The "Seven shops" are a row of earliest shophouses erected in Salak South new village during the colonial days more than six decades ago.
Among the original seven shops, only two still cling on to the their old trades today while the rest have either been closed down or changed to other businesses over the years.
Turning into the new village from Sungai Besi Highway, the Seven Shops are found on the left of the main street atop a small slope adjacent to the landmark Bai Yun rice stall.
According to local residents, the original seven shops operating here were a tea stall (later changed to a family run hair saloon and now a residential home), a tinsmith's shop (now the Fui Chew Association), a grocery shop (now a warehouse), a motor workshop, a winery (now a car workshop), a Chinese medicine shop and a coffee shop.
These shops still keep the old architectural styles, with the ceiling and walls turning yellow. Some parts of the ceiling even have holes. Fortunately, the shops have undergone some repairs and refurbishment.
Of all the shops, only the three-storey Fui Chew Association building is newly built.
The development of new road during the 1990s has resulted in insufficient parking. This has massive impact on the business operations of the shops. Other shops in the vicinity have also moved out of here, resulting in drastically reduced customer flow.
Hua Li tea house used to be a gathering place for senior residents until it stopped operating two years ago. Likewise, Chao Cheng Fatt winery has been converted into a car workshop.
In the absence of successors, both Tian De Tang medicine shop and Chang Yue motor workshop -- the only two remaining original businesses -- could wind up any time in the future as well.
The seven shops
39-year-old Fan Yun Xing, owner of Chang Yue motor workshop told Sin Chew Daily, both his brother and him are taking care of the business at this moment, and they are the third generation operators of this business.
"We recently expanded the shop to create additional space for storing motor parts.
"We used to repair bicycles but had to switch to motorbikes due to dwindling demands for bicycle repair services."
62-year-old Yip Qing Ling, owner of Tian De Tang medicine shop, said although digital scales are gaining popularity nowadays, they still adhere to the traditional balance scale when weighing the herbs, adding that the 40-year-old wooden scale is still as durable as ever.
The shop has been in existence for six decades now while Yip himself has been practising traditional herbal medicine for 31 years. Yip said he inherited his knowledge of herbs from his grandfather.
Yip has been renovating the shop to meet the demands of his customers. However, he is struggling to compete with modern medicine shops and large chain stores.
59-year-old Madam Su, owner of Fatt Kee grocery store said in view of the new hypermarkets nearby, traditional grocery stores have been jostled out of business since two years ago.
The closure of Fatt Kee has inconvenienced some of our regular customers. But as the shop could not survive the competition and Su's own children were reluctant to take over the business, she had to make up her mind to wind up the business and rented out the premises as a warehouse.