Vegetable seller’s 50 years in Tiong Bahru Market

Starting from today, we are shining the spotlight on some of the stallholders at Tiong Bahru Market that we get our fresh produce from. The groceries you buy on comes directly from these stallholders.

Vegetable seller’s 50 years in Tiong Bahru Market

Mr Ong Hock Ee’s vegetable stall has been in Tiong Bahu for more than 60 years. It was founded by his father, who started the business even before Tiong Bahru Market was built. They began as a roadside stall at Tiong Poh Road. It was an open space with no amenities like electricity or water, but it was along a stretch of shophouses and there were residents aplenty in the vicinity.

- Image Source Tiong Bahru Estate Facebook Page 

The old Tiong Bahru Market was built in 1950 at the nearby Seng Poh Road. It was then known as Seng Poh Market. The hawkers and stallholders at Tiong Poh Road were all invited to set up their stalls at Seng Poh Market.

Hock Ee, who is now 66, has been helping out at the stall since he was a little boy. Naturally, he sold vegetables full time with his father right after he finished his secondary school education. He took over the stall after his father passed away and he has spent his last 40+ years looking after the stall. From the leaky zinc roof of the old market to the current one with lifts and escalators and rooftop parking, Hock Ee has seen the evolution of Tiong Bahru Market firsthand.

For over 40 years, Hock Ee has worked long, unearthly hours and it has taken a toll on his body. Menial tasks which seemed like nothing when he was younger are becoming more and more taxing. Luckily his son, Mr Ong Jun Wen 36, will be taking over as the 3rd generation of this family business. Jun Wen has been shadowing his father for a long time and he is more than ready to run the business when his father eventually steps down. For now, he is diligently following his father to the wholesale centre, learning to buy the best quality vegetables and doing all the heavy lifting for his father.

The Ong family has one of the biggest vegetable stalls in Tiong Bahru and one of the widest selections. The stall is extremely popular and is especially packed during the weekends, to the point where their walkway is barely passable. Their vegetables come from all over the world, some as far as the USA. They also have a good mix of organic items. I personally buy my own groceries from them as well because of the high quality and the fact that we are cooking for our young son at home.

If you have a chance to visit Tiong Bahru Market, please do not hesitate to stop by Mr Ong’s vegetable stall.

Alternatively, you may do so through

- Pan 

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