“There would always be a queue to purchase the YKK zippers and lace, everyone ordered by the hundreds”
What made your grandfather open a shop?
Back in the 1960s, our family was very poor and had to make ends meet. My grandfather was a taxi driver and doing many other jobs to feed his family. It was by chance that he entered the shop trade after learning the ropes from a trading company he worked in for a few years. When the company closed down my grandfather took over the clients and continued where it left off with Sin Hin Chuan Kee. Our first shop was at 47 Clyde Street, where Parkview Square currently is.
What did you sell?
We were a trading shop dealing primarily in YKK zippers and lace. My grandfather relied on his bare hands as well as his children – my father and his siblings – to help out with deliveries and sorting the goods. Education wasn’t the most important thing then. Fast forward to 2022 – we are now located on North Bridge Road. Most of our stock comes from China, Taiwan, Japan, SE Asia and some parts of Europe.
SHCK was so popular, we’ve heard stories of legendary queues …
Hahaha, yes! There is an old saying for our business – it is akin to seeing a doctor. There would always be a queue to purchase the YKK zippers and lace. Everyone ordered by the hundreds, or whatever they could get their hands on!
Did you live at the store?
Yes, we also stayed in Clyde Street with the shop just downstairs. During that time, there were about ten of us in a very small house. Every day was like Chinese New Year as everyone in the neighbourhood was up early – and when one person starts cooking, everyone else follows! We were a very close knit community and still remain close today. Our business remains 80% run by our family members.
What are some of your favourite memories?
While growing up, SHCK was my Toys R Us! My brother Adrian and I would use the YKK zipper boxes to create a race track and me and my cousins would race mini battery Tamiya cars while we were supposed to be ‘at work’! Back then, my favourite customers were those who gave us sweets and treats. Today my favourite customers are those who pay on time!
How has living in Singapore changed?
Singapore is a great place to live. Living expenses are high but there are many things we take for granted like security, food and the convenience to get things done. I studied in Perth, Australia for three years but I always wanted to come home when there was a break.
What hopes do you have for SHCK?
That it will ride out this difficult period. Business has been affected for the last two years and we are thankful that we managed to get through. We have become closer as a family and more resilient as a company. Watching everyone pulling their weight and getting involved has been very encouraging.
Sin Hin Chuan Kee, 796 & 798 North Bridge Road,198766. shck.com.sg
Photos provided by Kenny Ng