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sg first coop store north bridgeThe well-stocked Singapore Co-operative Stores Society's shop in North Bridge Road


The first consumer society in Singapore was formed in 1946 at the time when there was a massive shortage of basic essentials and profiteering was rampant.

Located at 331 North Bridge Road, the store, which shared premises with the popular Liberty Cabaret, sold daily necessities and later added stocks of condensed milk, cigarettes, soaps, jams, tinned foods and more, at reasonable prices.

Sg First Coop Store Shoppers
Shoppers and staff at the Singapore Co-operative Stores

Registered on 23 August 1946, membership in the Singapore Co-operative Stores Society was opened to any one above the age of 21, and applicants were required to make a deposit of $5 for the value of one share and pay and entrance fee of $1.

The response was overwhelming. When the Society commenced business in October that year, it had 1700 members and a paid-up capital of $36,665. Within a year of its operations, a branch was opened at the 5th floor of the Fullerton Building in premises provided by the Government.

Sg First Coop Store Delivery Van
The Singapore Co-operative Stores Society's delivery van

The Co-op ran a shop-to-house delivery service and had a travelling shop on the road so that members could choose what they wanted at their own doorsteps. It went on to open branches in Tiong Bahru and Joo Chiat. The main office in North Bridge Road was demolished in 1951 to make way for the Odeon Cinema.

By the end of 1947, the shortage of goods eased off considerably. Black market withered as import of goods swelled. There was also a proliferation of small businesses.


The Singapore Co-operative Stores Society was liquidated in April 1953.

Other consumer societies formed during that period included the Pulo Bukom Co-operative Stores Society in 1948 which was established for the benefit of the employees of the Shell Company Limited on the island of Pulo (Pulau) Bukom. This was followed by the setting up of the Singapore Woodbridge Hospital Co-operative Stores Society in the late 1950 which was for the benefit of employees of the Woodbridge (Mental Hospital); and the Naval Base Co-operative Stores Society in 1951 for employees of the Naval Dockyard in Naval Base.

 

Source: The Singapore Co-operative Story: 1925 – 2015 published by the Singapore National Co-operative Federation, 2015

 


 

Other articles from Co-operator Newsletter, February 2019 Issue:

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Singapore National Co-operative Federation
510 Thomson Road #12-02
SLF Building, Singapore 298135
Email: [email protected]
Tel (65) 6602 0747, Fax (65) 6259 9577

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