Tenants, visitors say goodbye to 'Little Thailand' as Golden Mile Complex's last day nears

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SINGAPORE: With Golden Mile Complex set to close in May, long-time tenants, customers and staff are making preparations for their final goodbyes. 

Mr Roland Teo, Thai Supermarket’s operations manager, is looking forward to retiring after holding the fort for 30 years. 

The 61-year-old started working at the supermarket in May 1993, as one of its first few Chinese employees. In his three decades there, he has seen the number of employees grow from fewer than 10 workers to about 30. Like him, many of them have been with the supermarket for more than a decade. 

Mr Teo, known to some of the staff as Uncle Roland, already resigned early last year. The en bloc announcement came a few months after his resignation and delayed his plans. 

Golden Mile Complex, a conserved building, was sold to a consortium comprising Perennial Holdings, Sino Land and Far East Organization for S$700 million (US$518 million) in May last year.

The consortium said at the time that the existing 16-storey building will be “sensitively restored”, and the main building's key features and its signature terraced profile will be retained in the new “mixed-use integrated development”. 

Completed in 1973, the strata-titled development was one of the first in Singapore to integrate shops, offices and homes. The building became a Thai enclave because it was a stop for tour buses from Thailand and Malaysia. 

Following the announcement, the supermarket’s owners asked Mr Teo to stay on as the operations manager for a while more to oversee the move. The supermarket opened in Golden Mile Complex in 1985. 

“The bosses said I have to stay to help them set up the new store first … After this new store, I want to retire,” Mr Teo said with a chuckle. 

Admitting that he feels tired after managing the supermarket for so long, Mr Teo said that since his bosses are about the same age, they understand his desire to retire. 

“The only thing is since the en bloc went through, I’ll help them to set up the new place. Because if I don’t, they sure don’t know (how to), I’m the only one who’s familiar with all of this.” 

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