Going, going, gone?

Going, going, gone?

His dirty fingernails and bandaged thumb suggest that life hasn't been too kind to this elderly shop owner.

Mr Chang Boon Lee's hardware and bicycle repair shop, at the back of an HDB shophouse in Changi Village, doesn't even have a proper signboard.

His cramped shop is half the size of an HDB bedroom.

The smile on his face doesn't betray the obvious - the fact that his business could be nearing its end.

Like many other shop owners of his generation, the 72-year-old says he has to fight hard just to stay afloat these days.

The owner of Kian Chuan Seng Bicycle Company says in Mandarin that a good day would see 30 people calling in for some household items or getting their bikes fixed.

A bad day is when cyclists come and buy nothing - they use his tools for free or just pump their tires with free air from his compressor.

It's a far cry from the days when his father's hardware shop - which used to be situated across the road - saw streams of customers.

He recalls that former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had visited his dad's shop for some minor bike repairs.

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