By Andrea Ng
SINGAPORE - They were simple round buns with sesame sprinkled tops and filled with red bean paste. But they were so popular, they flew off oven trays before even reaching the shelves of one-time supermarket giant Yaohan.
Quarrels and snaking queues were commonplace in many of Yaohan's branches, where customers competed for the many bargains the Japanese chain offered, recalled former staff who yesterday got together - many of them for the first time after almost 20 years - to reminisce.
Opened in 1974 in Plaza Singapura, Yaohan was the first to introduce the one-stop shopping concept to Singapore. The first week alone saw nearly a million Singaporeans flock to its three floors in the newly opened mall. By 1983, it had five branches, including in Jurong and Bukit Timah. In 1997, its parent company in Japan went bust, and its last branch in Thomson closed.