E-grocer to revive interest in wet markets

SINGAPORE - With wet markets losing their appeal gradually among young adults here, a Swiss national living in Singapore is doing her bit to keep interest in them alive.

Ms Sabine Seilliere, 33, started a company called Sabine's Baskets in April which provides an online home-delivery service (www.sabinesbaskets.com) for baskets of fresh fruit and vegetables sourced from the Tiong Bahru wet market.

This adds to previous initiatives that tap on social media and apps to preserve the heritage of Singapore's wet markets.

One of Sabine's Baskets' main thrusts is to support the local community, and help "keep Singapore's heritage alive", Ms Seilliere told My Paper in an interview on Tuesday.

"(Wet markets) are part of Singapore, part of the culture here," said the former marketing and communications executive. "The stall-owners (are)...in a very tough business because they face competition from the big supermarkets."

She added that Sabine's Baskets was also established with the hope of "giving back to the community", where she was "welcomed with open arms".

Ms Seilliere moved here with her husband a year ago, and said she was impressed by the quality of the produce available at wet markets, compared to many big supermarkets, be it in terms of freshness, ripeness or cost.

When it began business, her company delivered only three baskets a week but this has now grown to 150. The price of a basket starts from $35.

Her business is targeted mainly at working executives who do not have the time to shop for groceries at wet markets. While most of her clients are foreigners working here, Ms Seilliere said that there has been "growing interest" among Singaporeans.

She currently relies on two stalls at the Tiong Bahru wet market, located near her home, to provide her with the produce.

Sabine's Baskets comes after other moves to preserve the heritage of wet markets, including those last year by the National Heritage Board that use social media and apps.

Dr Chua Ai Lin, president of Singapore Heritage Society, said wet markets provide an experience that goes beyond that of merely "shopping".

"You get to know the sellers and you develop a relationship with them," she said. "It's a community-based experience, more personalised and personable, and very different from the homogenised one you get in a supermarket."

For bank officer Adeline Tan, 28, wet markets are the go-to for fresher meat and produce, compared to those in supermarkets.

"But one inconvenience of wet markets is that I have to go early, as they close by afternoon," noted Ms Tan, who visits the wet market in Kallang Bahru once a week.


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