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Netizens bid farewell; query who asked Thambi Magazine Store to halve its display area

Online sentiment lamented the closure of the Thambi Magazine Store, which had been operating for eight decades. Speculation arose regarding the decision to reduce its display area, ultimately leading to its shutdown.



In the past week, Thambi Magazine Store, an 80-year-old newsstand, became the focal point of discussions in the Singaporean community as the shop owner announced its closure on 5 May.

Upon receiving the news, customers thronged to the Thambi Magazine Store over the weekend, cherishing moments with the owner and bidding fond farewells.

Observing sentiments online, many expressed sadness upon learning about the closure, despite the shop’s faithful service to the neighbourhood over the years.

However, some also criticized the landlord for potentially overlooking the significance of the Thambi Magazine Store as an icon of Holland Village. They lamented the harsh reality faced by local old-school businesses amid rising costs.

The store reportedly told to downsize its magazine display

Singaporean community thanked Periathambi Senthilmurugan, affectionately known as Sam, and his establishment for their dedicated service to the community.

During interviews with Singapore’s state media, including CNA, Sam clarified that despite rising ongoing expenses since taking over from his late father, G Periathambi, and a decline in revenue, the store is not operating at a loss.

Contrary to public perception, Sam emphasized that readership remains robust despite the abundance of online material.

While acknowledging that business could be better compared to the heyday of print magazines when the store stocked over 7,000 titles, Sam decided to close reportedly because he was told to halve the size of his display area.

However, Sam declined to disclose the source of this pressure.

The inability to showcase his magazines fully would undermine the essence of browsing and enjoying magazines, according to Sam.

By halving the display space, he feared losing out on spontaneous purchases from passersby, who constitute a significant portion of his customer base.

“When people pass by, they see the magazines (they like), they will buy. It’s not like they come for the magazines; most of them don’t know (a particular) magazine is still around.”

“If you know how to display, it’s a beautiful art. The customer will be carried away. Once they get carried away, that’s the secret of success,” he said.

Three generations of Thambi Magazine Store

The newsstand boasts a rich history spanning three generations.

Originally established by Sam’s late grandfather P Govindasamy as a newspaper distribution service in the 1940s, it later transformed into the beloved Thambi Magazine Store, formally opening its doors in 1996.

Sam, who had pursued marine engineering studies in the 1990s, unexpectedly found himself in charge of the family-operated Thambi Magazine Store due to unforeseen circumstances.

The store’s strategy involved enticing passersby to browse through the unwrapped magazines.

This approach not only successfully attracted visitors but also provided them with the opportunity to embark on virtual journeys to distant places, explore topics such as gardening and home design, indulge in international cuisine, and immerse themselves in captivating photographs.

Another iconic old-school store closed its doors

Observing the comments on Singapore’s state media platforms, including CNA and The Straits Times’ Facebook page, many expressed sadness upon learning about the closure, despite the shop’s faithful service to the neighbourhood over the years.

While one netizen proposed that the shop owner should embrace the reduced space and explore alternative methods for displaying magazines, others highlighted Thambi Magazine Store’s history of offering one of the most diverse collections of magazines for a traditional “mama-style” bookstore in its prime.

The comment emphasized that even in the present day, the store’s selection of titles rivals the extensive collections once found at old Borders and Kino at Ngee Ann.

It was suggested in the comment that for someone who values the experience of browsing and flipping through books, the idea of further space constraints would be inconvenient and restrictive, contradicting the principles upheld by the shop owner.

‘Who ordered the reduction of Thambi Magazine Store’s display area?’

In contrast, some netizens highlighted that the landlord may have overlooked the significance of Thambi Magazine Store as an icon of Holland Village, noting its role in attracting tourists to the area.

Questions were raised about who instructed the shop owner, Sam, to reduce the display area by half.

Another comment argued that if Sam chooses to halve the newsstand display, it won’t help in boosting their revenue.

The netizen pointed out that the space is already quite small and doesn’t command a high rental fee, especially considering the limitations on what can be displayed outside.

One netizen pointed out that what is really needed is a visible wall for magazines and publications to be displayed at a fair rate, emphasizing the slim profit margins in the magazine/newspaper business.

The comment criticized landlords for potentially harming retail businesses in pursuit of ever-increasing profits.

Rising costs strangle businesses

Some also lamented the harsh reality that the increasingly high cost of basic living and rental is causing many businesses to struggle due to unsustainable, ever-increasing rates.

Even worse, there are instances where even hawker centres are subjected to bidding processes. This raises concerns about the affordability of staple food and beverages for the public if this trend continues.

There’s hope that the government will address such issues and consider granting reasonable rental rates, especially for hawker centres, without resorting to bidding.

This would help sustain both businesses and the public’s financial situation, a netizen suggested.

Calls for legislation to safeguard iconic small-time businesses

Amid the challenges of the present day, as certain memories from Singapore’s past century fade away, there are suggestions to propose laws or policies aimed at protecting iconic small-time businesses that have contributed to the character and lifestyle of our country.

Some comments emphasized the significance of these old-school businesses and their importance to Singaporeans.

One comment pointed out that individuals like Sam add vibrancy to the area.

Another comment reflected on the forgotten contributions of various groups, such as the Samsui women and Indian labourers, in building the nation.

He lamented that while some individuals are glorified, many others are overlooked.

“Some says people will give their arm to live in there, but many left too for life is not about the ‘glamorous’ lane, it is also about time with precious people.”

One netizen commended the shop owner for his positive attitude, noting that instead of dwelling on the reasons for closing the business, he expressed gratitude to supporters and faced the situation with resilience.

“What a man he is,” the commenter remarked.

Nevertheless, others expressed their good wishes to Sam and his family, hoping for their success and suggesting that they find another nearby location to reopen the store.
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The old have to make way for the new…laws of nature..
This mornings news reported that a new location is being sought for mr thambi’s business, by the powers that be..
It wont be the same….

5G and it’s blind generation, proved to be Millionaire-full useful idiots.