Fans of the famous Jenny Bakery in Hong Kong no longer have to go there to buy tins of its rich, butter cookies.
The Singapore shop opens today at 11am at Block 422 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, 01-2534. It is less than a five-minute walk from Ang Mo Kio MRT Station and located along a row of shops which include clinics, a beauty parlour and baking supplies store Phoon Huat.
The shop will sell everything from butter and coffee cookies to almond flakes and nougat, packed in the store's signature tins with pictures of teddy bears on them.
Operations are kept within the family of the Hong Kong bakery's owner - whom Mr Lawrence Lim, 48, managing director of Jenny Bakery Singapore, affectionately calls "Auntie Jenny".
The opening comes just a month after its booth at Junction 8's Mid-Autumn Festival fair. Two weeks ago, it sold 1,700 tins within 13 hours on e-commerce site Groupon.
Jenny Bakery, which opened in 2005 in Hong Kong's Stanley Street, has two outlets - one in Tsim Sha Tsui and the other in Sheung Wan. The cookies are also sold in China and South Korea via other partners.
The coveted made-in-Hong Kong cookies are more expensive here.
For example, a large tin of the 4 Mix Butter Cookies costs HKD$130 (S$23.35) in Hong Kong.
Here, the same tin costs $45. The smaller version costs $25. The 4 Mix Butter Cookies consists of butter, coffee, shortbread and raisin oat cookies.
Other items available include butter cookies ($48), coffee cookies ($50), almond flakes ($42) and nougat candy (from $10 for seven pieces). Customers can also get the newly launched Halloween- themed teddy bear tins.
Payment for the cookies, like in Hong Kong, is by cash only.
The cookies last for one month and are made without preservatives and genetically modified ingredients.
Mr Lim admits that the cookies sold here are expensive, adding that this is because of the high cost of flying them weekly from Hong Kong. He says the key reason for opening here is to protect the brand's trademark, telling Life how the products and logo have spawned many copycats.
In recent years, a black market has sprung up around the cookies, which customers queue hours for.
Some resellers get people to queue for the cookies, then replace the original cookies with imitation ones.
This has resulted in customer complaints about inferior products.
Staff at the stores have also refused to sell cookies to customers whom they suspect are resellers. There is a limit to how many tins each customer can buy.
All these problems have resulted in negative press, which is why the owner does not want to give interviews, Mr Lim says.
To manage the potential queues at the store here, he will limit purchases to two to four tins a person - subject to availability. A booking system is expected to be implemented by the end of next month to minimise the queuing process. In the long run, he plans to take corporate bulk orders as well.
On opening a nondescript shop in the heartland, he says: "I chose Ang Mo Kio and not Orchard Road because I wanted to start with the heartland. I want Singaporeans to experience the cookies first-hand.
"I can sell the cookies at five times the price in Orchard Road, but that's not how I work. Profit is never my intention."
He had considered opening an outlet in a heartland shopping mall, but was worried about running out of stock and having to keep the shop open when he has nothing left to sell.
There are no plans to open more outlets or expand in the region simply because there is not enough stock, he says.
Loyal followers of Jenny Bakery are rejoicing the opening here.
Housewife Denise Lim, 53, says: "No visit to Hong Kong is complete without buying the cookies. My family and friends all love them and I buy as many tins as I am allowed.
"I love the butter and coffee ones. The coffee aroma is so fragrant once you open the tin.
"I missed out on the cookies when they had their Mid-Autumn Festival booth here and have been awaiting the announcement of their shop's opening."
Engineer Gou Xin Yang, 29, who had tasted the cookies when a colleague brought them back to Singapore, visited both stores in Hong Kong last month to buy the cookies.
At the Tsim Sha Tsui outlet, she queued for two hours.
She says: "So far, I would say these are the best butter cookies I have had. I use the boxes to store my children's toys. Now that they are in Singapore, I can buy the cookies whenever I feel like eating them."
- Jenny Bakery Singapore opens today at Block 422 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, 01-2534, from 11am to 8pm (Tuesday to Saturday) and noon to 6pm (Sunday and Public Holiday). It is closed on Monday or when stock runs out. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/JennyBakeryAsia