Toa Payoh’s 73-Year-Old Baker Appeals for Community Support as $1 Bread Draws Crowds
In the bustling neighborhood of Toa Payoh, there’s a bakery that commences its operations before the first light of dawn and astonishingly sells out by 8 am, after a mere four hours.
The proprietor, 73-year-old Mr Fu Jinfeng, offers freshly baked bread at the nominal price of just $1 per pack, about $1.50 below the average price.
His primary motive? To assist low-income seniors in the area.
However, the bakery’s exceptional value for money has not gone unnoticed.
Word about the affordable bread has spread rapidly, drawing more customers, including those from outside the area, who visit specifically to save money on bread.
This surge in popularity, while beneficial for business, inadvertently sidelines the elderly — the very demographic Mr Fu aimed to support.
These seniors often find the bread sold out before they have a chance to purchase it.
Baking in the Early Hours
Mr Fu’s day begins just after midnight in his modest bakery situated beneath his apartment in Toa Payoh Lorong 7.
There, he passionately bakes over 30 varieties of traditional bread, including flavours like red bean, curry, and butter.
By 4 am, he’s ready to sell his produce, which typically ranges from 300 to 400 packs, each containing four fist-sized pieces.
Having dedicated 60 years to his craft, Mr Fu relocated his bakery to Toa Payoh from Upper Thomson Road 16 years ago.
He consciously keeps his bread prices low, selling the packs for only $1, as a gesture of care towards the elderly residents in the vicinity.
To put this into perspective, similar traditional four-piece bread packs are generally priced at least $2.50 in the market.
Does this mean Mr. Fu is making a loss to support these seniors?
While we may not know the financial specifics, his compassionate heart is undeniably evident and admirable.
Plea to the Public
Despite his large-hearted approach, Mr Fu faces limitations.
He can only bake a limited quantity of bread single-handedly.
Recently, new customers, even those not residing in Toa Payoh, have been purchasing bread in large quantities.
For instance, some bought as many as 20 packs in one go, causing the bread to sell out rapidly.
This surge in sales has a downside — it often leaves the elderly, particularly those on a tight budget who typically buy only a pack or two, empty-handed.
They arrive only to find that the bread has sold out in the early hours, leaving them disappointed.
Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, Mr Fu expressed his gratitude for the business success but emphasised his wish for customers to be mindful of those in need.
Mr Fu, while open for business, is reluctant to refuse sales to anyone and does not wish to impose purchasing restrictions.
The Question of Assistance
Naturally, one might wonder if Mr Fu could seek help in his baking endeavours.
In many family-run businesses, it’s common for family members to step in.
However, this is not always feasible.
As Mr Fu revealed to Shin Min Daily News, his three sons are engaged in their own careers and he has no intention of asking them to join the bakery business.
Moreover, the bakery’s limited space restricts the feasibility of employing additional help.
Mr Fu fervently hopes potential buyers will forego their purchases in favor of the elderly who rely on this affordable food option.
In a broader context, the situation reflects ongoing challenges for seniors.
As Manpower Minister Tan See Leng noted on CNA, employment rates for senior workers have improved, yet a third of employed residents aged 65 and above are only working part-time.
This indicates that even employed seniors may struggle financially, possibly finding it difficult to afford even the modestly priced $1 bread.
With this scenario unfolding in Toa Payoh, it raises an important question: What action will you take?
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