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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Mar 13, 2010

Supermarket Shopping

Photo Credit: Derek Tait

This is an old photo of the Fitzpatrick's supermarket at Orchard Road in the 1960s.

How many of us could remember about the modernised supermarket shopping concept in Singapore, the first-ever Cold Storage and Fitzpatrick's (no longer in business in Singapore now)?



Established in 1903, Cold Storage was the child of the Industrial Revolution and Pax Britannica, when Singapore was the “Clapham Junction of the Eastern Seas”. Together with electricity and refrigeration, it allowed European agents of change - the colonial civil servants, merchants, miners, planters, traders - to acclimatise to living in the tropics. It can thus be said that if there were no Cold Storage the modern history of Singapore would probably be quite different.

In its early days, the Company's primary concern was to have a quick and profitable turnover of its imported meats and range of products. Later, Cold Storage shifted from counter-service to self-service, introducing the supermarket to Singapore. Then the Company pioneered the concept of multiple retailing, capitalising on bulk buying and economies of scale. [Excerpt from Cold Storage ].

For the first person experience from my classmate Tan Kim Choon, who contributed his essay on "Supermarket Shopping" published in the Outram Annual 1962 to share with the alumni group discussion on Facebook at "Outram Secondary School Alumni Group" on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Derek Tait


The supermarket is one of the best places to shop in. We can shop in air-conditioned comfort, in either Fitzpatrick's or the Singapore Cold Storage, the two supermarkets in town. Although things are a little more expensive, people like doing are a little more expensive, people like doing their shopping in a supermarket because it is much easier, and cleaner; the customer is free from annoying attentions of the counter assistants and she can take her own time to make her choice.

One day my aunt took my sister and I to Fitzpatrick's. As soon as we reached the entrance, we stepped on the doormat and the door opened at once. Wow! our eyes nearly popped out at such a variety of goods displayed so attractively. We went in and Aunt took a push-cart to carry all the things we were going to buy. As we walked among the rows of tinned food, Aunt took a tin of cocktail sausages and one of peaches. Next she bought a pound of ham and some other frozen foodstuffs. The she said, "I think we'd better go home, for the longer we stay the more things once. Wow! our eyes nearly popped out at such a variety of goods displayed so attractively. We went in and Aunt took a push-cart to carry all the things Aunt took a push-cart to carry all the things we were going to buy. As we walked among the rows of tinned food, Aunt took a tin of cocktail sausages and one of peaches. Next she bought a pound of ham and some other frozen foodstuffs. The she said, "I think we'd better go home, for the longer we stay the more things we'd be tempted to buy." But my sister and I pleaded with her for a treat.

So she left the things in the care of a shop assistant and brought us up to the restaurant to have a snack. I had club sandwich and a cup of tea, and so did my sister and Aunt. After our snack we went down. Aunt took her purchases from the shop assistant and placed them on the paying counter where she paid for them. Than a peon carried the things to her car and she tipped him for his service. I went home happy because I had enjoyed myself thoroughly at the supermarket.

TAN KIM CHOON
Sec IB, 1962

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

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3 Comments:

Blogger derek tait said...

Hi James,
I enjoyed your blog posting about cold stores very much. In the
1960s, being from the UK and feeling the heat and humidity of Singapore more than the locals, the main reason that we went in the cold store was not to get our shopping but just to cool down! There must have been lots of Brits in there at the same time all doing the same thing.

March 13, 2010 at 11:09 PM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

I think I have stepped into Fitzpatrick only once all my life. Seems to be such a high class place to us kampong folks especially so with so many Caucasians.

Likewis, I was so impressed by the Robinsons Store at Raffles Place.

March 15, 2010 at 8:14 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

The pioneer supermarkets of Cold Storage and Fitzpatrick's were later followed by Japanese supermarkets Yaohan and Daimaru, local China-made products from Oriental Emporium, then Singapore-made and international products at NTUC Fairprice, Sheng Siong, Market Place by Jasons, Carrefour and Giant Hypermarket.

Over the years, every generation will experience a new lifestyle of supermarket shopping in Singapore.

March 16, 2010 at 6:44 AM  

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