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A 29-year-old Singaporean quit her comfortable office job to join her husband’s family business selling pork at the wet market.
Emily Tan took the leap into the thick of it during the pandemic, both by choice and circumstance.
His story was picked up by 8World and posted May 6.
The series tells stories of resilience in Singapore that have emerged during the pandemic.
Bukit Batok wet market stall
The butcher stall, formerly called Quan Shui Fresh Pork but has since been renamed Quan Shui Wet Market, is located at Block 156 Bukit Batok Street 11.
He has been there for 22 years.
The original company was started in 1968 by Oh Quan Shui, the grandfather of Tan’s husband.
It was then passed on to her daughter, Tan’s mother-in-law.
And it was during the pandemic that the booth saw fresh blood join its organization – the booth owner’s son, Neo Jun He, joined after seeing his wife commit to being a full-time butcher of third generation and an online retailer.
Why did she join the family business?
Tan is at the wet market a few days a week these days overseeing supplies.
How she got there is a result of the pandemic taking a heavy toll on the business — but also creating an opportunity for her to step up and turn things around.
Tan studied communications and new media at university and became a flight attendant with Singapore Airlines for three years after graduating.
She then changed jobs.
Before the pandemic, she worked for three years in Shanghai as a business development manager.
In April 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Tan watched his in-laws worry about business as wet market sales took a hit.
Appearing emotional, Tan said: “At that time, when I saw how my in-laws were affected by the pandemic and they looked tired, my heart ached. And they seemed to be in a difficult position.”
“So, I thought we could use this pandemic to make the original dream of online retail a reality.”
Had gone online to sell products in 2001
In 2001, the stand had already gone live to sell groceries, but it didn’t catch on because it was ahead of its time.
Tan then restarted the online business.
During the pandemic-induced lull, the family started taking small orders from neighbors and accepted orders placed via WhatsApp.
They went to customers’ homes to personally make deliveries.
This method worked.
Business improved soon after
And in two months, orders have jumped.
Subsequently, Tan had to do the web design, photography, retail analysis, meat chopping, chicken defeathering, and deliveries on her own.
It was then that she decided to quit her full-time job to start the family business.
Nowadays, the online retailer takes 50 to 100 orders a day and makes deliveries to the whole island, except for Tuas.
Orders placed before 10 p.m. will be delivered the next day.
They have moved from selling pork to other groceries, such as vegetables, chicken and seafood.
The products come from the other stalls of the wet market.
Tan said, “After expanding the online business, you can say we opened a new store. Our sales have increased significantly.”
“I never imagined that I would be working in a wet market,” she added.
“The pandemic has allowed me to question myself and discover where my limits lie.”
“These are things I would never have tried before.”
Had doubts at first
However, Tan venturing into the wet market initially intrigued his own family.
She said: “My father and mother were pained by my decision to join the wet market business.”
“It’s not like I wasn’t educated, didn’t graduate from college, and my previous job wasn’t bad?”
Going from a nine-to-five office job to starting early and finishing late in the market was tough for Tan, she said.
She said she doubted herself and wondered if she had made the wrong decision.
She said, “Did I regret it? If I told you I didn’t, I’d be lying. Honestly, it was very difficult.”
“The market environment is hot, humid and dirty. I had to listen to other people’s gossip. The impact on my mental and physical health was huge.”
“There is no withdrawal period for this current job.”
Joined by her husband
Among other challenges, Tan said she has to get up early and physically exercise to complete tasks these days.
But with the support of her in-laws and her husband, the strength of unity helped them through.
Her husband was a high school math teacher.
He left teaching in 2021 to join his wife to oversee the finances of the family business.
Neo said he was initially shocked when his wife wanted to join his family at the wet market.
But his parents are touched and happy with the decision of their son and daughter-in-law.
Speaking on camera, Neo’s parents looked emotional and said they were happy and would support their son and daughter-in-law, and can now retire.
Tan said: “Am I going to encourage other people to try other professions? The possibilities in the world are endless, if you have the opportunity and are willing to try it, I would say go for it. .”
All media via 8World unless otherwise specified