By Terry Xu –
Following the story of Hai Bin Bishan Prawning being compelled to close due to the high rent imposed by its landlord, Nature Park, , TOC paid a visit to the shop to take a look on its last day of operation.
The shop offered free prawn fishing sessions on its last day of operation to thank all their loyal patrons for their support these last 6 years of its operation.
Customers queued for coupons which entitled them to a free rod for a three hour session of fishing. The sessions started from early morning and continued till midnight. Many who turned up were long time patrons of the shop.
Mr Wang Huiqing, the person in charge at the Bishan branch, said that the landlord gave an offer of $110,000 to renew the rental of the shop inclusive of the coffeeshop just beside it. Previously, the rental of the whole site which includes the prawning pond and the coffeeshop, was charged a monthly rental of $43,000.
The shop operators were only informed on 19th August and told to pack up by end of August if they did not agree to the new terms.
Mr Wang said the landlord denied responsibility for the late notice, claiming that the notice of the rise in rental had already been conveyed to the owner of the coffeeshop in July.
Although the pricing might have been offered at market price and might also be viable if they took over the operations of the coffee shop and the food stalls, the management felt that it would be wrong to accept the offer since they had been renting from the coffee shop to begin with and it would have meant undercutting another just to maintain their operations.
Mr Wang said that in the subsequent discussion, the initial offer was dropped and another offer was made by the landlord – which is to take 40 per cent of the total income as payment for the rental. Hai Bin management rejected the offer as they did not find it economically feasible.
The additional 15 days which the shop requested for were approved by the landlord but they were still asked to pay about $34,700 for the rentals, a drastic increase compared to the previous arrangement of $26,000.
Word has it that the landlord has plans to open its own prawn fishing business but it remains to be confirmed.
All of the patrons whom we spoke to expressed their disappointment that the shop will be closing. But their views are divided on whether or not they would support a new prawn fishing shop by another management.
Some have expressed that they will go to the other branches of Hai Bin while some say they would wait and see if the pricing for the new shop will be affordable.
When asked about what would happen to the staff of the Bishan branch, Mr Wang said that some will be deployed to the Punggol and Jurong branches.