Tools to cope with hard times

Wong says that with construction and renovation works not allowed now and with many people jobless, his business has dropped by at least 70%. – ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

IT IS not known when the pandemic will end, but some Penangites evidently make the best use of their time staying safe at home, as is evident from a visit to Cheapside.

This is an alley off Chulia Street in the heart of George Town’s heritage enclave.

It shares the same name as a street in London, which is filled with restaurants and bistros.

George Town’s Cheapside, however, boasts an array of quaint, retro hardware shops selling tools at reasonable prices and everything anyone can possibly need for their home improvement and gardening projects.

And since these shops are allowed to remain open under the National Recovery Plan, a steady stream of Penangites come to get tools and gadgets to tinker with at home.

Hong gets his gardening tools sharpened at a hardware shop off Chulia Street.Hong gets his gardening tools sharpened at a hardware shop off Chulia Street.

L. Vejayatheran, 51, is a bodyguard and personal driver. He now spends much of his time with his teenage children.

He was spotted at Cheapside recently getting gardening tools.

“I do gardening as a substitute for going to the gym.

“I prefer buying tools and gardening equipment from shops rather than online because the quality can be guaranteed.

“I grow ladyfingers and corn in my house garden in Ayer Itam.

“My teenage children help me to care for the plants whenever I am busy working,” he said while waiting for the shopkeeper to repair his pressure sprayer.

(Top and below) Customers checking out the household goods and tools on display at the hardware shops off Chulia Street in Penang.(Top and below) Customers checking out the household goods and tools on display at the hardware shops off Chulia Street in Penang.

Retired electrical and electronics engineer Ron Hong, 63, was also at Cheapside recently.

“My family and I have been residing in Singapore for the past 30 years.

“Being a Penangite, I came back in March to have a look at my house here before going back to the republic, hopefully by August.

“Since I am all alone here, I cut my grass and prune my plants to keep busy.

“I have been frequenting this hardware shop since I was young and I decided to drop by to sharpen my gardening tools.

“As we are still fighting the Covid-19 virus, we have to do our part by not going out and keeping ourselves safe at home,” he said.

Hardware shop owner Wong Chun Sang, 72, said a handful of customers would buy tools for their household needs.

“Some of the most sought after items are pliers, screwdrivers and water hoses.

“When car wash outlets were not allowed to open, so many customers came to buy water hoses.

“After the restriction under the first movement control order was eased, many customers came to buy hardware to repair household appliances themselves.

“However, since many people are jobless and construction and renovation works are not allowed now, my business has dropped by at least 70%.

“Thankfully, my rental is affordable and I can still survive,” he said.

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