“Hi sister! What do you want?”
Lai Fun was sitting on a stool reading the newspapers. It was the lull of the afternoon when most market stalls were closing for the day.
The signboard above their stall says Fatty Supplier. “My father-in-law and brother-in-law were very fat, so we called them… fatty suppliers!”
The husband-and-wife team wake up at 2.00am every morning to open their stall and collect their fresh chicken from the supplier: cash on delivery, and then they start chopping the chickens into parts before the sun rises over the city and the market fills up.
In an age where “organic food” has swept the imagination of the health-conscious, local markets in Singapore continue using the local lingo: “We have kampung [village] chicken and factory chicken. The kampung chicken is tougher and the meat is sweeter. Factory chicken is soft and easy to eat, so children like it more.”
Lai Fun explained that the type of chicken you get at the wet market is different from the supermarket. “Everything you see in the supermarket is standard: the sizes cannot be very different, so they sell chickens that are 1.2kg — the maximum size is 1.5kg. Our chickens are different sizes: we have 1.8kg, even 2.5kg.”
This interview is featured in a coffeetable book sponsored by the Singapore Business Federation and SG50 Celebration Fund with a gorgeous cover design from Paperplane, a visual storytelling studio based in Singapore.
Shopkeeper Stories is a photographic documentary of small business owners and their trades around the world, sharing their tips and insights. You can connect with the community on Instagram and Facebook @ShopkeeperStories