What’s your beef?

Butcher at a market in Toa Payoh, Singapore selling frozen meat such as beef and lamb | ShopkeeperStories.com

“I started helping my father in primary school. At first it was only during school holidays, but then I left school to help him every day. While he was doing deliveries, I took care of the stall. At the time, I was still quite young, so I found the work quite fun.  I taught myself how to debone the meat and prepare the shabu-shabu for the customers, and gradually learned more skills.

After getting married, I left the stall to look after my child and help my husband with his pork shop but, after 12 years, my father had to go for gastric ulcer surgery and then eye surgery. So I returned to the market to continue his butcher business.”

Butcher of frozen meat at a wet market in Toa Payoh, Singapore | Shopkeeper Stories


Pauline has learned to work skillfully with beef and lamb, and she has learned other lessons the hard way:

“My husband lent money to a friend to help him pay the rent for his business, but he never paid us back. He kept saying: next month, next month, and then he disappeared— and we never saw him again! We couldn’t even report it to the police because nothing was in black-and-white, and he didn’t use his real name with people. So we never got our money back. This is what I say: don’t trust anyone.”


Shopkeeper Stories is a photographic documentary of small business owners and their trades around the world, sharing insights, stories and views. You can see all the posts on Facebook and Instagram @ShopkeeperStories



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