Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Sunday Times : Indie outlets get help via social media to stay afloat

The Sunday Times
16 December 2012

Mr Kenny Leck, 34, owner of BooksActually in Tiong Bahru, launched an appeal on Facebook and successfully raised $16,000 last month. -- ST FILE PHOTO
Pressured by escalating business costs, the owners of two indie ventures here have taken to social media to mobilise their customers for funding.

Tiong Bahru bookshop BooksActually launched an appeal on Facebook and successfully raised $16,000 last month.

This was followed by The Pigeonhole, a cafe and arts space in Duxton Road, which hopes to raise $15,800 by Dec 27.

The Pigeonhole opened in March last year and is owned by Ms Ave Chan and Mr Rayner Lim.Both declined to comment when contacted by The Sunday Times, but they posted on crowdfunding portal Indiegogo that they were raising funds to pay for rental arrears and relocation costs.

"This fund-raising campaign started because we - and many of our friends and customers - really don't want us to close down for good," they wrote.

As of yesterday afternoon, a week into the campaign, more than $7,300 has been raised online. Donations are also accepted in-store.

They also plan to hold a free benefit concert on its premises at 52 Duxton Road this Friday, to help raise funds.

BooksActually, located at 9 Yong Siak Street, hit its target of $16,000, which it used to pay for a two-month security deposit for the rental of its 1,800 sq ft shop.

Owner Kenny Leck, 34, said he had a week to raise that amount after his landlord raised his rental from $3,800 to $8,000. His deadline was Nov 20.

"We've shifted so many times, and it is crazy to shift again when we're trying to build the business and are on track to stabilise it," said Mr Leck, on why he decided to stay put instead of finding a new location for his business.

The independent bookstore opened in 2005 in Telok Ayer, before moving to Ann Siang Road and Club Street.

Mr Leck went on Facebook to announce a 30 per cent storewide sale on Nov 15 and a book launch on Nov 16.

"I don't believe in just taking people's money," he said. "I wanted people to come and buy something, even if it's only a voucher, or if it's something they don't want, they can give it to someone else."

Lawyer Choo Zheng Xi said police permits are required for collections "made by means of visits from house to house or of soliciting in streets or other public places".

"It is conceivable that a strict interpretation of 'other public places' could be read as including the Internet," said Mr Choo. "But I know of private companies who have raised money through PayPal and have not got into trouble with the police."

Customers were happy to chip in for The Pigeonhole's campaign. Eight donors The Sunday Times spoke to gave between $50 and $200.

Student Leow Yi En, 16, who donated $50, said: "The Pigeonhole helps to promote the local arts scene and I hope that it would be able to continue with its work."

He also spent $30 at BooksActually the weekend the appeal was made.

Dr Kevin Lim, 35, who donated $200 to The Pigeonhole, said: "People are helping one another to make their community a better place."

The assistant director of the National Art Gallery, which will open in 2015, added: "There is co-dependency, something that harks back to the idea of the kampung spirit, which we as modern Singaporeans hardly experience today."

1 comment:

atyg said...

These new places don't add to the charm of Tiong Bahru, but to commercialized yuppy-dom. The old Tiong Bahru shops, decades long, were driven out by high rentals to make way for these new establishments, who now struggle to pay theexorbitant rent. Let them fail, let market forces decide, let the rents lower, that was the justification in the first place for the old Tiong Bahru shops.