After two years of selling women's clothing online through their business Mini House, Mr Adrian Tan, 38, and his wife Tran Vu Yen Vy, 34, seized the chance to open a physical store when they secured a good deal on the rent.
They live next to new mall and neighbourhood centre Oasis Terraces in Punggol Drive, and their business is among 10 start-ups in the entrepreneur cluster on the third floor of the seven-storey building.
Mr Tan said they pay about $765 a month as rent, which includes utilities. The rent is about a quarter of what they would have to pay at Waterway Point in Punggol Central, about a 20-minute walk away, he added.
Oasis Terraces, which officially opened yesterday, is the first new-generation neighbourhood centre developed by the Housing Board. Five more centres will be completed by 2022.
HDB, which is the landlord for the mall but has a managing agent to oversee the leasing, said the entrepreneurs enjoy lower costs and rents as the store spaces come with fittings such as flooring and lighting. It said the aim of the entrepreneur cluster is to add more variety to the mix of shops.
For Ms Vy, who runs Mini House with her friend, Ms Tran Thi Chan, 31, having a physical store provides customers with assurance that it is a legitimate business. "People can also come and see the products for themselves," she said. Previously, customers would place orders after watching their livestream on Facebook where they introduce their products.
Some of the mall tenants are also selling their products on Lazada, as part of a tie-up between the e-commerce platform and the Housing Board. Among them is Green-on-Go owner Deepika Jindal, 35, who opened a store in the entrepreneur cluster in November last year, selling eco-friendly products such as stainless steel straws.
The mother of two, who was a housewife before, said sales have been better than expected both online and in the physical store. "We are trying to provide more affordable and stylish options," she said. "With the lower rent here, we can compete with online prices."