I've known that for some time as the A-B-C thrift shop near my place is thriving because people are feeling the squeeze due to inflation. For $1, you can get a pack of 48 batteries from China:I found out that they leak and might damage the appliance - but I didn't throw them away, I added a layer of masking tape contain the leak. I'm not poor, I'm a cheapskate. I'm sure the poor people who buy cheap stuff like these batteries know what to do. Other cheap things you can get from thrift shops are parallel imports of branded items that are made in Thailand - these include shampoos, toothpaste etc. I heard about this but don't know if it is true, the Thais have a ban on the import of such products and these companies have to set up shop in Thailand to manufacture their products if they want to sell them in Thailand. I'm alright with the toothpaste from the thrift shop, as long as it is something I don't have to swallow, I'm okay with it.
Many Singaporeans are rich enough not to have to buy from thrift shops. You're not poor - you don't have to risk buying cheap stuff that don't last. It is difficult to understand what it is like to be poor ....here's a real story for you from a page in my life:
More than 30 years ago, I stayed in a kampung (a village). It was quite common to do so and I didn't really consider myself poor - my dad spoke some English and had a steady job and we could afford all the necessities and some creature comforts like a TV. The kids staying opposite us weren't so lucky - the dad had a low paying job and found it difficult to make ends meet. The parents quarreled often over money (or rather the lack of money) - it was a struggle to clothe and feed the children. One of problems with the family was they had too many children - 5 kids. ...at that time our govt had disincentives for parents having more children and that made their situation worse. One day when I got home from school, I found one of the neighbors children crying outside the house. I asked him what happened and he told me he was punished physically for dragging his feet while walking. Dragging his feet? You see the family was so poor they punished the kids for dragging their feet because it caused the shoes to wear out faster. That was the kind of poverty we had 30+ years ago when we were a developing country. People actually struggle to pay for necessities. Over the next 2 decades, poverty actually decreased as wages rose relative to the cost of necessities. However, 10 years ago, it started rising sharply again.....and last week's announcement by NTUC to set up shores for the poor means that the number of low income families has risen to the point that NTUC now sees a business opportunity to cater this growing segment of our society. NTUC Fairprice is living up to its reputation that it serves that every Singaporean, just that the poor have to be served at a different outlet.
In a affluent nation with a sovereign fund that can inject and lose several billions injecting money into trouble western banks, there is really no need for such "shops for the poor" and thrift shops because we have all the resources to alleviate the problem of poverty by paying fair wages - a person working full time should be able to raise his family and at least afford the necessities.... but wages aren't rising as fast as bus fares, electricity prices, rice etc. A good govt isn't one constrained by practices of governments elsewhere that their own remuneration is somehow related to the well being of their citizens. Ours is a good govt if not the best in the world, they are able to break out constraints and address the injustice of their own painful sacrifice to be in govt by raising their own salaries in a hurry while they retrain the low income earners to accept the new harsh reality of their situation. There is no hurry to hold back the increase in electricity tariffs, no hurry to give out food stamps before someone starved to death, no hurry for welfare before another citizen gets onto the MRT tracks and no hurry for health care for those who can't afford it. The PAP govt is known to work with much haste when it needs to protect its reputation - Mas Selamat shows that no effort and resource will be spared when competence of the govt is called into question. Poverty is however a silent problem that shows up quietly in various numbers such as the GINI index and income distribution...and the poor people who know our illegal assembly laws well and they have no voice or power to change anything. If the problem is managed away quietly, it will exist but remain hidden behind the grand achievements of our great govt. In the coming months there is plenty to celebrate - the F1 will be here in Singapore, the casinos (oops IRs) will open and youth Olympics will held in Singapore. This country is about staying together and moving ahead. ...in moving ahead, we leave nobody behind, so make sure you're not a nobody who can't afford the price increases our govt has planned for you...
NTUC may set up stores with cheaper items for the low-income
By Wong Mun Wai, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 24 March 2008 2051 hrs
SINGAPORE: NTUC FairPrice may set up new stores or have special corners at its current stores to stock cheaper items for the low-income group.
At the launch of the NTUC FairPrice Foundation on Monday, the co-operative said this could be one response to rising food prices, and it is still studying how feasible this will be.
NTUC FairPrice Foundation chairman Ng Ser Miang said: "Because of (the) rising food prices, we are looking at whether there is some effective way where we can set up another format that would serve the low-income group. Or we will take a different strategy of (assigning)... one section in our current format that will serve (them)."
Details have yet to be confirmed, but new stores or facilities could be set up as soon as next year.
"Depending on how fast we can sort of (make) a decision on the right mix of products and the right type of stores we should be going into," Mr Ng said.
The supermarket chain is pledging S$50 million over the next ten years to its foundation.
To mark the launch of NTUC FairPrice Foundation, it is giving S$1 million to four beneficiaries - the Community Chest, the Eldercare Trust, the Food from the Heart and the NTUC Childcare Bright Horizons Trust Fund.
The NTUC FairPrice Foundation said in future, it will issue grants to organisations only if they have three strategic thrusts - to help the poor and needy, to help in nation building and community bonding, and to advance the welfare of workers. - CNA/ac