SINGAPORE — More stalls will be added to the ongoing Ramadan bazaar in Geylang Serai, where rental prices of existing stalls have reached up to S$21,000, reportedly a record high.
The expansion of the bazaar was announced on Tuesday (April 5) by Associate Professor Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim, Minister of State for Home Affairs and National Development, via a Facebook post.
In response to TODAY’s queries, bazaar organiser Wisma Geylang Serai said that another 20 retail and 10 food-and-beverage (F&B) stalls will be added from April 14 onwards to the existing 40.
Current vendors who spoke to TODAY had mixed responses to the latest development.
Though hopeful that more stalls would attract bigger crowds, some said that they had agreed to pay a steeper rental fee due to the initial prospects of lesser competition.
NEW STALLS CLOSE TO TANJONG KATONG COMPLEX
Wisma Geylang Serai said on Tuesday that the extra booths will be located in two zones.
“Zone 3”, made up of 10 retail stalls, will be located at the grass verge along the sheltered pathway next to Tanjong Katong Complex’s open-air car park.
Another 10 food stalls and 10 retail stalls will be placed in “Zone 4” at the open field next to the shopping complex.
These extra stalls will operate until the bazaar ends on May 2.
The existing 40 stalls at Geylang Serai, also in two separate zones inside and next to the Wisma Geylang Serai building, already opened last Friday, following a two-year hiatus due to Covid-19.
In his Facebook post, Assoc Prof Faishal said that the expansion follows a “very positive” response towards the Geylang Serai Hari Raya Shopping Experience, the official name for the bazaar.
It was also done in view of the relaxed infection control measures for Covid-19, he said.
WHAT VENDORS SAY
Wisma Geylang Serai confirmed with TODAY that rental rates for F&B stalls were between S$15,000 and S$21,000, while non-F&B stall holders had to pay S$5,000 to S$12,000.
The rates this year broke the last record of S$20,000 set in 2018, a report by Berita Mediacorp stated.
Following public feedback, the organisers placed a cap of S$14,000 on rental prices in 2019, before the Covid-19 disruption.
On why rental prices this year were allowed to go higher than the cap in 2019, Wisma Geylang Serai said: “This was due to the higher cost of logistics, manpower and the implementation of crowd control management and limited number of booths.”
T Bob’s Corner, Ole Ole Paella and one F&B stall that declined to be identified were three operators that said they had paid a rental fee of S$20,000 for their booths.
Ms Indah Nabielah Zulkarnain, director of T Bob’s Corner, said that this was the first time she has opened a stall at the Geylang Serai bazaar. She has another stall at the Kampong Gelam bazaar, for which she has paid S$12,000 to rent.
Asked if she was confident of making a profit despite the higher rental at Geylang Serai, she just replied “God willing” and chuckled.
Mr Stephen Suriyah, owner of The Original Vadai, said that he took part in the bazaar mainly in response to his customer’s requests and for branding purposes, so he was not too bothered by the rental rates, which he said was “on the higher side”.
Mr Edward Koh, stall owner of Ole Ole Paella, said that he had set up shop at Geylang Serai despite the high rental because there were supposed to be just eight food stalls.
“Therefore people would have less choice and our sales would be okay,” he reasoned.
However, with organisers adding at least two more food stalls in the bazaar, along with the upcoming 10 more announced, he said that he has “no choice but to (try to) be confident”.
The owner of another F&B stall at the bazaar, who declined to be identified, said: “Of course with more stalls, we are hoping that it would draw more crowds and more business. But it also means we won’t be the only few selling food.”
Ms Indah of T Bob’s Corner hopes that the location of new stalls further away from Wisma Geylang Serai would help spread the crowd slightly, addressing customers’ complaints about the long queue to enter the bazaar zone now.
Ms Nurul Atiqah, 29, a financial executive who visited the bazaar this year for the first time on Tuesday, told TODAY that she would probably not be going back despite the promise of more stalls.
“With the hassle of queuing to enter and all, (it’s), like, not worth it,” she said.