Making a change in difficult times

PETALING JAYA: K. Thirukumaran quit his job as an auditor and accountant when his employer could no longer ensure he got his pay cheque regularly.

The 28-year-old began selling fruits and in just a few months, has managed to earn more money than he used to.

Thirukumaran is among an increasing number of people who have turned to the fruits retail business to survive the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most have very simple operations, with only a stall or a pick-up truck parked at the roadside, but they have thrived nonetheless.

There is no doubt that running a business is hard work, as Thirukumaran pointed out to theSun.

For him, the day starts at 5.30am when he leaves his home in Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur, for Chow Kit where he picks up his day’s supply of fruits from a wholesaler.

By 9.30am, he is in Bandar Seri Permaisuri, Cheras where he tries to catch the morning crowd. Otherwise, he would set up stall in Sungai Besi. The day ends at 7.30pm or 8pm, depending on how good the sales are for the day.

For Thirukumaran, the change was a leap of faith, but it has worked out quite well for him.

“I made about RM3,500 in my first month in business, which is RM1,000 more than what I used to earn in the accounting firm where I worked,” he said.

“It was a difficult decision to make. I was giving up a stable job for an unpredictable venture,” he pointed out.

But the push factor was when his employer told him and his colleagues that they would have to either clear their annual leave or take unpaid leave. That was when he decided it was time to go, and in July he bade farewell to his employer.

Initially, he did not get the support he was hoping for. “My friends and family did not think very highly of me becoming a fruit seller.”

But he was undaunted. “I hope to make RM120 to RM250 a day and I have already open other avenues to reach more customers, like on Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram. For those who place orders through these apps, I use the services of Grab to make deliveries,” he said.

The proud owner of the humble fruit stall has registered his business as TK Fruits.

Another person who has turned to selling fruits is Ariffin Mohamed. The 31-year-old former administrative staff at an aviation company decided to quit his job when his employer cut the staff’s salaries by 50%.

“It (my salary) was not enough to pay the bills (after the cut),” he told theSun.

Ariffin was prompted to make the change when a friend who owns an orchard in Selangor proposed that they should team up to start a business selling fruits.

In June, they set up a stall in Ampang to sell durians and other fruits. “I now earn more than what I used to,” he said.

For Ariffin, the reality of the times was difficult to accept. “I had a stable job and suddenly the future became uncertain.”

On the bright side, Ariffin is happy that he has not been infected by Covid-19 and so is able to continue to earn a living.

“Most importantly, my family members are all healthy and safe during this outbreak. That is also a blessing for me,” he said.

As for Agusman Kandari, it was a change from the pasar malam or night market to a roadside fruit stall business.

“When we were forced by the movement control order to stop trading at the night market, I started my fruits business.

“We all need to survive in these very tough times and I don’t make as much as I did previously but at least I have an income,” he told theSun at his stall, which sells a wide range of fruits, near Taman Samudera in Gombak.

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