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Lament the closure of Thambi magazine, but stop the hypocritical heritage lamentations

HERE’S a quick guide for any Singapore business with deep heritage roots. If you close or move, for heaven’s sake, don’t tell anyone. If you do, expect to be inundated with slightly hypocritical and vaguely narcissistic social media posts lamenting your demise.

Typically the messages look like this…

“When I was a kid, I spent all my days at this closing down Singaporean company (because Netflix didn’t exist back then and we could only visit the weird woman with the boobies on display at Haw Par Villa). “

“I used to buy so many products during this Singapore business shutdown (then the internet allowed me to get the same products cheaper online).”

“And it’s a shame that yet another Singapore business being closed is lost forever as we turn into a bland, identitarian city (and I’m only typing this in Starbucks because I need a good air conditioning and free wifi.)”

“I haven’t visited the Singapore fence company for many years due to work and family (and found inferior alternatives on Shopee.)”

“But I’m going to visit the Singapore business fence to pay my last respects (and sniff out the two-for-one bargains!)”

And then, if the poor beleaguered owner of Closing Singaporean Business is really lucky, he might be lucky enough to receive a second round of social media posts, perhaps even more ironic and lacking in self-awareness than the first .

Generally, these posts are reserved for LinkedIn specialists, those who start with something intentionally generic – I was working in the laboratory, late at night – and then we head towards something dramatic – and suddenly, to my surprise – before arriving at the shocking denouement he made monster mash – And encourage the reader to bring out their executive “monster” by enrolling in a C-suite course.

You see, there’s really nothing that can’t be incorporated into a personal branding exercise, whether it’s a hit record from 1962 or the poignant closure of the Thambi Magazine Store. We couldn’t just talk about the store and its loyal and dignified owner, could we? We had to talk about ourselves.

Hours after it was announced that the Thambi Magazine store in Holland Village would be closing after more than 80 years, the first batch of copy-and-paste messages about the closure of Singapore businesses appeared. But the second round focused on subsequent visits to the companies concerned. And they went something like this…

“When I heard the news about Thambi Magazine Store, I had to rush out and take this photo with the owner. He’s the one with the furrowed brows, facing the astonishing short-sightedness of Holland Road shopping center management, and wondering where he’ll find somewhere else to keep his family business alive. This is me smiling like a school competition winner, wondering how many likes I’ll get for this post on Facebook. Or, better yet, how I could turn this photo shoot into some kind of spiel about pivoting business in my next magnum opus on LinkedIn. I still bought a magazine for the cat’s litter box. I actually stopped reading physical magazines after Peak printed an unflattering photo of me at one of my wife’s charity balls. And my wife threw a lot of balls, you know.

Yes, I’m losing my temper now. And yes, there were many sincere visitors to the Thambi Magazine Store, familiar faces who had frequented Periathambi Senthil Murugan’s exceptional magazine cave for decades. And I did consider making the trip myself, but I was aware of the hypocrisy (I’ve been buying magazines from Thambi since 1996, but not regularly) and the narcissism (I didn’t want to talk about his situation economic).

And frankly, that horrific media photo of customers gathered around the store and taking photos with their phones as an emotional Mr. Periathambi closed his shop for the last time defied belief, like social media hyenas circling a lion hurt, feeling weakness or a viral message. job. A nice man’s discomfort is not a source of voyeuristic entertainment.

But I do it too, right? By writing this, I am part of the same hypocrisy. Actually, no, Mr. Periathambi and I have been part of the same industry ecosystem for decades. I wrote words. He sold them. Think of any major Singaporean print publication in the last 25 years and I’ve probably written for it at some point. Mr. Periathambi’s magazine cave has housed thousands of my columns, as well as those of every bookstore across the country, and I will always be extremely grateful to the tireless and unsung heroes of our faltering ecosystem.

And besides, what happened recently when several Times bookstores closed their doors? The armies of nostalgia have once again marched on our social networks, chanting things like…

“I bought all my books from local bookstores. And then I discovered Amazon. And then the Times Bookstore closed its doors. And now I’m sad and I have to blame the management or the government or something.

Elsewhere on the high street there have been variations of this popular lament…

“I bought my first office outfit from John Little and then discovered Shein. And then John Little closed and I was sad. And then I was briefly happy when I rushed to John Little’s 80% sale. And then I was sad again, so I posted black and white photos of John Little.

And perhaps that’s the Hobbesian nature of retailing. It’s nasty, brutal and short, with too many declining industries struggling to survive in the digital age. But we can’t have it both ways. We cannot always buy cheaper, substandard, foreign and free (or even pirated and illegal) products and then feign ignorance, regret or loss of local products and industries that we have rarely supported in the past. departure.

Singapore is too small to preserve all failing businesses and buildings, regardless of their heritage value, unless we foster them. Whether it’s a Holland Village magazine vendor, a bookstore, or a hawker stall, nostalgic love letters after the fact won’t save them.

Hopefully Mr. Periathambi will quickly find a new location for his magazine business. But he doesn’t need our Facebook posts. He needs our money.

Singapore is too small to preserve all failing businesses and buildings, regardless of their heritage value, unless we promote them. Whether it’s a Holland Village magazine vendor, a bookstore, or a hawker stall, nostalgic love letters after the fact won’t save them.

Neil Humphreys is an award-winning football writer and best-selling author, who has covered the English Premier League since 2000 and has written 28 books.

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