Hoping for a fruitful Chap Goh Meh

Closing time: Preparations are underway for Chap Goh Meh celebrations in Penang with an array of activities at Esplanade, including a giant dragon sculpture. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

Restaurants and fruit sellers looking forward to the weekend after quiet week

JOHOR BARU: Businesses in the state capital are hoping that the Chap Goh Meh weekend will bring back the bustle of the first week of Chinese New Year after a quiet past few days.

Restaurants and fruit sellers in Johor Baru are hoping to see packed tables and boxes of oranges flying off the shelves for prayers that are typically held on the 15th day of Chinese New Year.

Fruit seller Diong Ong Ham said he has slashed prices for his mandarin oranges by more than 70% as he hopes to clear out all his stock in time for Chap Goh Meh.

Diong has sold much of his oranges after he cut the prices for a box of extra large mandarins from RM25.80 to RM7.20 and he expects more customers to visit his six branches today to buy them for prayer offerings.

“Besides mandarin oranges, I have also reduced the price of other fruits such as pineapples to RM1 each from the previous RM6/kg and watermelons from RM5/kg to RM8 each as a way of giving back to the community.

“These fruits are also popular among customers to be used for prayers on the 15th day of Chinese New Year, which falls on Saturday,” he added.

“I started selling mandarin oranges in December last year as people geared up for the festive season.

“However, the demand for the fruit dwindled when Chinese New Year started on Feb 10.

“That was when I slashed my prices. I also allowed my customers to open up each box and fill them to the brim with mandarin oranges. My workers will make sure to pick only the fruits that are still in good condition to make my customers happy with their purchase,” he said when interviewed.

The businessman added that many customers showed up after he posted about the promotion on the shop’s social media channels.

He said many customers turned up and they usually bought one to two boxes each as gifts for their loved ones while companies also purchased 30 to 50 boxes in one trip for their corporate festive gatherings, he added.

“While most fruit sellers stopped stocking up on mandarin oranges after the first day of the lunar new year, my supplier sent me about 5,000 boxes of mandarin oranges to sell on the seventh day of Chinese New Year (Feb 16).

“I gladly accepted them as I do not want the fruits to be dumped just like that. I am a firm believer of reducing waste so I often do promotions to clear stock rather than throwing them away,” he added.

Meanwhile, business operators in Johor Baru city centre are hoping to see more crowds this coming weekend after a “quiet week”.

Rahim Khan Salahuddin, who runs a fourth generation bakery in Jalan Dhoby here, said sales were brisk in the first week of Chinese New Year but it slowed down in the past few days.

“Maybe it was because people have gone to visit other places outside of Johor.

“I hope the crowd will return again this weekend since it is still the school holidays.

“I did notice many new faces as well as tourists from China and South Korea in the first week of the festive celebration – they mostly bought our popular items like coconut buns, curry buns and lamb curry puffs,” he said.

An assistant supervisor at a popular coffee shop in Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, who only wanted to be known as Su, said about 70% of their customers were Chinese tourists in the first three days of Chinese New Year.

“The past few days have been quieter compared to the first week of Chinese New Year and we hope to see more customers in the coming weekend,” he said.

“Most of our regular customers are visitors from Singapore and they are willing to queue up for more than 15 minutes to wait for a table during peak periods.”

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