It exists in many different colours and tastes. It is a favourite snack amongst children. It is best served frozen, and is said to be Man’s best invention especially during Singapore’s all-year-round summer heat.
Yes, today we will be looking at the daily business routine of Mdm Tan, our friendly Ice cream vendor. Any resident who travels daily via train, will definitely know Mdm Tan who sells sets up her ice cream stall every day, near Block 181 Stirling road next to the Queenstown MRT station.
Mdm Tan and her Ice cream scooter
Despite being of retirement age of above 60 years old, Mdm Tan would satisfy commuters daily who have simple, yet certain longings for cold and pleasantly sweet ice cream.
At about 1.30pm, Mdm Tan starts her day after her husband drops her off at the sheltered walkway under Queenstown MRT. Mdm Tan would normally run her business from about 1pm to 8pm every day, including weekends.
She has a daily inventory of over 20 ice cream flavours such as chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint and many more. Even localised flavours such as ‘attap seed’ and sweetcorn are included in the menu. You name it, Mdm Tan has it!
Consumers can choose for their ice cream to be served either in a crispy waffle cone, between 2 biscuits, wrapped in coloured fresh bread, or even simply in a plastic cup. A choice of an ice cream flavour, served in one of the four methods is only sold at an price of $1. Mdm Tan emphasised that pricing the ice cream at $1 is her strategy to stay competitive throughout the 8 years.
Cold Cold Ice Cream!
“Business is usually bad during rainy days”, says Mdm Tan. “However, business in general fell exponentially three years ago when the snack shops opened upstairs.” Mdm Tan was referring to the shops situated outside the Queenstown MRT control station on the second floor. Ice cold bubble tea, soya bean drinks and soya bean flavoured ice creams made conveniently available, quickly became direct substitutes for Mdm Tan’s ice cream.
Wowed by the number of ice cream flavours that Mdm Tan offers, we asked her and found out that she purchases both Walls’ and King’s ice cream from local suppliers. Her husband would purchase the day’s worth of ice cream stock from their suppliers each morning. Through her 8 years of experience, Mdm Tan is able to adapt her ice cream flavours in order to suit her customers.
Curious about her family background, we asked Mdm Tan the reason for starting her business. She replied that all her 3 children are currently working and supporting both her husband and herself. However, feeling bored and restless staying at home, Mdm Tan rather spends her time earning some extra income and staying self-sufficient.
Putting Up the Umbrella During Rain
Her husband Mr Tan, invested in their ice cream vehicle years ago as they started vending ice cream in Orchard Road. However, about a decade ago, the National Environment Agency did not continue their license which allowed them to sell ice creams in Orchard. Mdm Tan then relocated their daily operations to near her own HDB apartment in Stirling Road, where she had lived for more than 30 years.
“We used to earn $400 each day in Orchard Road! However now times are hard and we have to make do with about $20-$60.”
At about 6pm, it started raining substantially and Mdm Tan covered her stall with a piece of canvas in order to protect it against the weather. Mdm Tan and her husband have many friends visiting them every day. They are mostly residents from the neighbourhood. The group will then sit on the chairs Mdm Tan provides, just to chat with each other every day. Mdm Tan derives happiness in chatting with her friends each day, and time passes quickly with extra company.
We admire Mr and Mdm Tan’s will to stay self sufficient despite their age. Perhaps having an ice cream on a hot or unhappy day, could sweeten and brighten up your mood.