December 27, 2009

Disappearing Old Miri : Our Friendly Chinese Hawkers in Tamu Muhibbah

Small businesses in the past could feed a whole family of ten children. And some of the children could even go to university if they could get a scholarship. But most of these hawkers in TAmu Muhibbah are fortunate that their children have made a success of themselves in different walks of life.

This post is dedicated to all these senior hawkers I know and I hope the new year 2010 will bring more blessings to them and their families.

Now in their senior stage they are just happy to pass their time . The tamu is like their day time living room. They have someone to talk to while doing a little of selling. They replenish their stock only once in a while.


"People do come and buy little things : safety pins or a small comb - may be spend like 4 ringgit or 5 ringgit. I am happy for the little business I have."


Like the hawker above I have a relative in Sibu having a similar stall. This 70 year old relative of mine told me this when I visited him at his market stall...."I am selling almost the same things as my friends. What is different is this : I have my own customers who come looking for me in the last 30 years. No change. Life is still the same and I like it. Business is not chaotic like the new businesses of today. I don't think I can operate a coffee shop. That's too difficult...."

This lady in red blouse is my aunt's friend from Sibu. She operates a "general" stall in the Tamu and is always cheerful when I drop by. I always pick up my Tiger Balm and Wellaform (for hair) from her . And I like getting my scissors and little mirrors from her too. In between customers she copies by hand the Chinese Bible.

Giving her support is very important to me because I like spending my money on things she is selling . If I can help it I do not wish to buy goods from large supermarkets which charge me parking fees. Besides it is very difficult to have to queue for a long time behind customers who have hundreds of items in their trolleys. Sometimes the salespeople in supermarkets are rude and they also tend to have their own conversation without paying attention to senior customers like me who may need help. And most importantly I do not like to crush myself between customers who think that the end of the world is coming and they must grab that packet of sugar!! or that tin of Milo!!

I like buying things from people who know me and are very friendly. And besides that their goods may be even cheaper!!

This is a "disappearing business scene" in Miri. They will be replaced by the impersonal huge supermarkets.


12 comments:

wenn said...

true, they are still the best.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Wenn

This is a disappearing culture...I have already introduced it to my children and they too feel a little sad about this possibility.

I like their honesty and sincerity when dealing with customers. There is such a great personal touch that we cannot forget...and they too give a very good discount whenever possible. There is no such thing as "fixed" price for them.

Superman said...

Yup, those good skills are going to disappear very soon. Nowadays generation all about money and no more 'kam chen'.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Superman
Thanks for visiting!
Yes it is true. But Kam Cheng is still the value that the Westerners write about. They see it as the relationships which create good business systems in the macro sense in Asia !

And I believe that kam cheng in the microsystems is instrumental in moving small businesses upwards if they want to!

Bengbeng said...

yes it is true moms n pops businesses r slowly disappearing... like for me i feel uncomfortable buying stuff from them too... i prefer shopping in a supermarket

Ah Ngao said...

yeah,you get the real customer touch when buying from hawkers or stalls like that - you get some stories and gossips too...hehe

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Bengbeng
Perhaps there is a sense of nostalgia only for those who have grown old with these old hawkers in a small place. Otherwise most people welcome the supermarkets and their cleanliness.
Thanks for visiting.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao

You hit the nail on the head! Yes we often get the best of gossips from these folks!

Thanks for dropping by.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, its always nice to shop where people know your name.
This the first time I read of the word, 'tamu'. Must be a Sarawak word.
When I was in Sarawak old days I did notice these small businesses and the friendly owners.
Here too we have family owned stores and restaurants that will greet us by our first names.
Love your this posting, very heartwarming.

Here's wishing you and all at home the very best of Seasons greetings.
Stay young, stay beautiful and have a happy new year, Lee.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Uncle Lee
Now the drinking and eating is over we have to get ready for the new year eve dinner...I am looking forward to the usual traditions of ringing in the new year and ringing out the old....

This year I am not going to a big party but will go to a relative's house for a gathering for one elder and his family especially. We are trying to get him to be more positve and live longer!! Cheering him on so to speak...

Here's a Sarawak drink for you :

a few drops of Agostura bitters
one portion of Ribena
five portions of ginger ale
perhaps a few drops of vodka if you like

lots of ice cubes.

This is named after a British surveyor called Chapman....so have a Chapman's....cheers.

Thanks for your visits....HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Anonymous said...

Hi Madam
I am sure you had a great time over Christmas. Me? Just back to school.

Greetings for your New Year...

K.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi K

All the best for the new year....and the best lessons are yet to be taught!

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