Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tay Buan Guan

When I was a child, Tay Buan Guan was the one and only supermarket in Katong and it was here my family went to do our supermarket shopping (in addition to going to the old Siglap wet market). The selection of items was good, and the ready access to the ample carparking nearby was also very convenient.

Tay Buan Guan (also called TBG) was situated just behind the row of shophouses on East Coast Road which continues into Joo Chiat Road; it could be reached through three of the shophouses. One of these shophouses was a confectionary. My mother used to order my birthday cake there, plus other pastries to serve at the family party. The other two shophouses had different uses - can't remember exactly what but I do recall that for some years one was used as a thoroughfare into the main East Coast Road. Near the entrance to this particular building was a games arcade. The first games arcade I'd ever been to. I remember driving around the circuit and shooting some sea monster, under the supervision of my father.

Unfortunately for Tay Buan Guan, new players came onto the Katong supermarket scene - Cold Storage off Amber Road (in the old Seaview Hotel compound - it has now shifted to Katong Mall), Emporium departmental store and supermarket in Katong Shopping Centre (now closed down), and finally, the building of Parkway Parade which was and still remains the dominant player on the retail scene in Marine Parade. My family did continue going, off-and-on, to Tay Buan Guan over the years, particularly when my sister was very young. But we were often the only ones going down the aisles. Finally Tay Buan Guan closed its doors. Today, a condominium development is on the old supermarket site.

As for the shophouses? Well, these too were sold off, I believe. One is now Rumah Bebe, a retail shop selling Peranakan beaded shoes, kebayas, porcelain and other knick-knacks. The faded Tay Buan Guan sign can still be found on the pillar outside the shop, though partially hidden by a trishaw.


  1. I remember that there were three levels in the TBG building: The TBG supermarket on the ground level, then the Chinese Emporium with its ever so cheap (and good) items, and above that the retail space consisting of many small shops. I remember buying Glen Doman's book "Teach your Baby to Read" for only $4 (hard cover) in a little bookshop there when Katong Gal was just around 2 years of age (and already beginning to read). I also bought the Ladybird reading series Sets A and B, as well as lots of story books for Katong Gal and little Katong Guy there, as well as Beatrix Potter's books read out loud with songs as well. (Who can forget those tales of Benjamin Bunny, and Jemima Puddleduck?)

    As for Cold Storage at Sea View - once upon a time it was Yaohan instead taking up two floors. Then it became Cold Storage and above it we had Ikea (the first Ikea store in Singapore).

  2. Ah yes, I do recall the upper floors of TBG now. I suppose that my childhood memories are somewhat vague (being a child at the time).

  3. Oh yes - a welcome to my contributing writer! :-)



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