Selling seasonal durians during Covid-19
Hard work and online savvy keep couple's durian shop going
Just as he finally realised his dream of selling durians, the circuit breaker kicked in.
It did not help either that the seasonal king of fruits had to be imported from Malaysia.
But Mr Roy Neo refused to let the Covid-19 pandemic ruin his dream.
Mr Neo, 29, told The New Paper: "As a durian lover, I always wanted to sell durians. But it took me a while because I had to source for good durian suppliers.
"Covid-19 made me realise too that I should explore new opportunities, and since I managed to find a good supplier in Raub (in Pahang, Malaysia), I felt the timing was perfect."
By June, he and his fiancee Alyssa Liang, 30, opened their durian shop in Jurong East.
While the couple rely on social media platforms such as Facebook to sell durians, they felt it was also important to run a physical shop.
Ms Liang, a financial adviser, said: "This way, customers will know we are serious about selling durians long-term. With trust, we can build a better customer base."
Mr Neo, who has also been selling live betta fish (more commonly known as "Siamese fighting fish") on Facebook since 2017, first named his shop Durian Betta House.
He later renamed it Aly Durian as a gesture to Miss Liang, and to separate it from his betta fish business.
To reach out to more durian lovers, the couple share updates on durian prices online. Aly Durian also provides delivery services to all parts of the island.
While the pandemic has been challenging for many businesses, Mr Neo sees it as a chance to persevere and work even harder.
He said:"If the economy is bad, it all depends on how much effort we are willing to put into our business."
They have not forgotten the underprivileged elderly living in the neighbouring Housing Board blocks.
Miss Liang recalled an occasion where some of them who passed by their shop were unable to afford the durians.
She shared that observation with a regular customer, who paid for a full basket and suggested it be given away.
The couple then decided to add another basket.
Miss Liang said: "We packed them into boxes and personally delivered them to the elderly who are under social welfare schemes.
"Seeing the joy on their faces when they received the surprise made us just as happy!"