A craftsman in Sengkang has been handcrafting Nyonya shoes for almost three decades.
However, these days, he is doing cobbler work at Block 113 Rivervale Walk, six days a week, to make ends meet.
Specialises in Nyonya shoes
The craftsman’s small business in the northeastern suburbs of Singapore was highlighted by Workers’ Party MP, He Ting Ru in a Facebook post on Oct. 24.
The WP MP wrote that she was making the rounds in the estate and chatted with the craftsman, Mr Soo, who had been experiencing a lull in his business.
The craftsman revealed that business has been poor, but he still has to show up six days a week to work, despite his mobility problems.
Soo used to operate a small workshop in Geylang East for about three decades.
On the day that He visited him, he had just completed an order for a customer and did not have any samples of his handiwork on hand to show what he can do.
However, he was able to provide a sample of the beadwork that customers can bring to him to turn into traditional Nyonya shoes.
Praise for his skills years ago
But there is little doubt about what he can do.
A comment left on a blog post about the vanishing cobbler trade in Singapore commended the cobbler at Rivervale Walk way back in 2014.
The comment said then:
“The uncle at Rivervale Walk is good. I think he is in his 70s and speaks Chinese, Cantonese and a bit of Malay.”
He’s post also gave a shout-out to Soo, informing anyone keen to procure a traditional Nyonya shoes to look for Soo.
Here is He’s post in full:
Soo this morning during our estate walk. He is a resident of Buangkok and has been renting a small space in the Block 113 void deck for the last 8 years where he has been providing cobbler services. He was drinking his Kopi-O when I said hi, and told me that business is very poor, yet he has no choice but to go down 6 days a week despite having mobility problems
He used to have a small workshop in Geylang East for almost 3 decades, and specialises in hand making nyonya shoes. Unfortunately he just finished an order which was picked up by the customer, but he did show us a sample of the types of beadwork that customers can bring to him for turning into traditional nyonya shoes
Do drop by Blk 113 Rivervale Walk from Tuesdays-Sundays from 9am-5pm if you are interested!
Top photos via He Ting Ru & Roots SG