For the next two weeks, Mr Jimmy Ng, 50, will be busy renovating, cleaning and stocking up his new drinks stall at Marsiling Mall, which expects to receive its first customers on Dec 15.
He was a young boy when he started helping his mother at their stall at Old Woodlands Town Centre. But after 37 years, it was time to move.
"I am sad to leave the stall where I grew up helping my mother, but this is a new beginning," Mr Ng told The Straits Times yesterday.
He moved to Marsiling Mall, next to the Woodlands Sports Hall, last month.
Mr Chua Lay Sing, chairman of the Woodlands' Merchant Association, said 80 per cent of the 68 stalls from Old Woodlands Town Centre will open for business at Marsiling Mall on Dec 15.
The last of the stallholders vacated their old premises yesterday.
The two weeks in between will give them time to do up their new stalls, which are double the size of their previous ones.
"It is pointless to open a few stalls at a time. It is better for business if we had a big opening," Mr Chua said in Mandarin.
The Straits Times understands that stall owners started receiving their keys in phases last month. Mr Ng got his keys on Nov 13.
Mr Koh Boon Tong, 62, who sells nasi lemak, plans to open for business by Dec 19. While he expects renovations to be completed by Dec 11, he is not sure if he is ready to start by Dec 15.
"I will want to start as soon as possible," he said in Mandarin. "But I have to do some additional works such as shelving, piping and lighting so a delay may be inevitable."
When The Straits Times visited the hawker centre at Marsiling Mall yesterday, renovation work was going on and dust covered the floors, seats and tabletops.
The National Environment Agency (NEA), which manages hawker centres and markets, said on its Facebook page on Nov 14 that the hawker centre will have 70 cooked food stalls and more than 1,000 seats. It will also have an automated tray return system for patrons so that cleaners can focus on cleaning the tables, NEA added.
The opening of the hawker centre is expected to ease the congestion at the one at Block 20, Marsiling Lane.
Mr Tan Foo Ming, 28, secretary of the 18 to 21 Marsiling Hawker Association, said that footfall has increased 30 to 40 per cent in the past month as the stalls closed at the Old Woodlands Town Centre.
Workers coming to Singapore through the Causeway, especially motorists, have flocked to the hawker centre where Mr Tan runs a noodle stall with his family.
The hawker centre is nearest to the Woodlands Checkpoint now that the Old Woodlands Town Centre has closed to make room for the extension of the checkpoint.
"We welcome the additional business, but the lack of parking spaces for motorcyclists has been a big problem," he said, adding that customers who parked illegally often rushed off before finishing their food in case they got a summons.
"We hope that more parking spaces for motorcyclists can be built," he said.
Admiralty resident Toh Seng Hong, 22, misses the seafood soup at Old Woodlands Town Centre.
He and a friend went to Marsiling Mall yesterday but the stall was not yet open. Mr Toh, an undergraduate at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, said: "It's good to know that the hawker centre will be open soon."