A Visit to the Sundry Store with Grandma

“Ah Boy! Come follow Ah Ma to the sundry store. Ah Ma wants to buy some stuff to make tong-sui for tonight mah-jong session,” said Kah Kit’s grandmother as she walked by his room.

“Ok Ah Ma. Give me five minutes to get ready,” Kah Kit replied his grandmother.

“Are you ready, Ah Ma?” he asked her as he grabbed the housekeys from the dining table.

“Yes, ready all this while, waiting for you to get ready!” said the elderly lady as she headed out the door with her grandson.

Before leaving the house, Kah Kit took an umbrella to shade his grandmother and himself from the glaring sun rays.

“Ah Ma, what tong-sui are you making tonight?” he asked.

“Ah Ma is making red beans soup, it is the recipe I learned from my mother,” she responded.

“Wah! Can I have a bowl later?” he replied with a grin.

“Of course, you can have a bowl, Ah Boy,” said his grandmother.

Upon reaching the sundry store, the pungent aroma of fresh onions, ginger and garlic could be smelled whenever the wind blew. Uncle Hock Chong, the owner of the sundry store, was seen standing outside, handing a bag of potatoes to one of his customers.

He noticed Kah Kit and his grandmother from the distance, “Ah Boy, what brings you here with your Ah Ma today?” he asked while waving at them.

“Hello Uncle Hock Chong, Ah Ma wants to buy some red beans from you today. I cam here to accompany her and maybe buy some chocolate wafers for myself,” he said with a grin.

“You go look around the shop while I help you Ah Ma with what she needs,” the sundry store owner replied.

For such a small shop, Uncle Hock Chong knew how to optimise every corner of the shop as he had almost everything you need for your household.

From potatoes, garlic, onions, to red beans, green beans, and barley in gunny sacks, assorted can food, a variety of biscuits and snacks such as milk biscuits, chocolate wafers, fish-shaped biscuits, and jam-filled biscuits in large tin containers while household items such as brooms, wooden basket, pails, wooden brushes etc. can be found at the sundry store.

Whenever Kah Kit visited Uncle Hock Chong’s sundry shop, he never goes home empty-handed. “Ah Ma, do you want some chocolate wafers for tonight’s session? I’m going to get some together with strawberry jam biscuits,” he asked his grandmother who was at the counter with Uncle Hock Chong.

“Yes, please. Tell Uncle Hock Chong how much catty you want for each. I am almost done here. Let pay up and go,” his grandmother replied.

Did you enjoy your visits to the sundry store back in your childhood? Do you remember the items that were on sold that you cannot find anymore today? Certainly, it can be quite of an adventure as you would find anything and everything in just one store. Today, the equivalent of the “back in the day” sundry store is probably the supermarket. That said, how common is it today to find a sundry store like the ones in our childhood?