After a two-year absence due to Covid-19, the highly-anticipated Geylang Serai Ramadan Bazaar opened to much fanfare on April 2.
The bazaar may be ready for Singaporeans, but are Singaporeans ready for the bazaar?
A TikTok video posted by one stall owner at the Geylang Bazaar seemed to indicate a lack of crowds at the pasar malam, officially known as the Geylang Serai Hari Raya Shopping Experience.
The founder of Let's Pretzel posted the video on Thursday (April 21), with a caption which stated, "Honestly just trying to at least break even for this Geylang Bazaar."
The clip, taken by stall-holder Regine Sum, included the text, "How did you spend SGD 50,000+ in two weeks?!" It also captured a split-second clip of the sparse crowd at one of the lanes in the bazaar.
@letspretzelsg Honestly just trying to at least break even for this Geylang Bazaar. D-10 days 😢 #geylangbazaar #ramadan2022 #fyp #sgtiktok ♬ Big And Chunky - Juan Torres 🤠
According to a press release sent to the media about a week after the stall opened on April 8, Let's Pretzel is a solo concept started by 25-year-old Regine, who's also one of the co-founders behind confectionery chain Nasty Cookie.
Specialising in pretzels, the stall offers both savoury and dessert pretzels priced at $6 each, with flavours such as Sour Cream N Chips, Ondeh Ondeh, and Pepperoni and Cheese.
In the comments section of the TikTok video, Regine explained that the $50,000 covered the entire set-up cost, including "rental, sink fee, electricity fee, food equipments, booth set up, packaging and logistics" as well as "15 days worth of manpower cost".
The comments drew both messages of encouragement as well as criticism that it was a poor business decision.
When contacted by AsiaOne, Regine shared that her stall had opened a week later than others because the management had only contacted her about the available stall "at the last minute".
"We missed the initial crowd and media coverage because of this," said Regine, who shares she has been working at the stall every day since it opened.
She added that she had "only three days to set up everything", and the urgency also contributed to higher costs.
However, Regine said that she had been confident going in as she believed in her product. Friends who had been involved in the bazaar previously also shared that their takings "could hit above $100,000" pre-Covid. There was also an expectation that sales would be higher, given that there are "fewer stalls and less competition".
However, Regine noted in her reply to commenters on TikTok that the "situation now is totally different and shocking".
She shared with AsiaOne that she's recouped close to $30,000 of her investment so far, and daily sales average "about $2,000 to $2,400", which is why she only hopes to break even by the end of the bazaar.
She speculated that the recent rainy weather and crowd control measures put in place by the management could also have been contributing factors to the low foot traffic.
"The management will stop people from coming in at 10.30pm," said Regine. This is despite the bazaar's official 11pm closing time.
However, she acknowledged that "one or two" popular stalls at the bazaar still see queues, but even these stalls experience lulls as things are "super unpredictable".
Some other stallholders have shared with her that they too are facing the same struggle. One vendor even tried to engage an emcee to attract more crowds, but to no avail, she said.
Regine is also not confident that sales will pick up as "the crowd is already dropping off this week". The Ramadan bazaar will wrap up in 10 days with the last day of operation on May 2, just before Hari Raya which falls on May 3.