Traditional sundry shop remain relevant in Malaysia

What is sundry shop?

In Malaysia we called sundry shop as kedai pelbagai, in Singapore they have known as mama shop and sari-sari store in Philippines.

There are popular in Malaysia and consider one-stop centre for those who want to cook and shop for daily cooking.

Sundry shop is a shop that sells essential dry kitchen item for everyday use.

The concept is unique whereby its sells variety of cooking ingredients such as flour, nuts, sugar, spices, dried noodles, vermicelli and canned food.

The sundry shop generally does not offer perishable goods that requires refrigeration.

Where does the sundry shop come from?

The sundry shop is family-based business and privately owned.

According to my mother, when she grown up in Singapore, the sundry shop was set up by people of Indian descendants.  

Over here in Malaysia, sundry shop was mostly owned by Chinese.

This is like home food pantry to the customers but in large scale.

The layout of the sundry store

The shop is usually small and close pact.  The quantity of selling items on the shelf are according to the needs of customers, they are not many but enough for the patrons.

Dry kitchen item
One of the corner of sundry shop that I used to go. They are stack of rice and dried noodles.

The sundry shop offered variety of spices stored in cleaned sacks that later mixed by the owner upon request from customers.  

The one kilogram cooking oil stored in plastic pack are usually kept at payment counter as it is usually subsidised cooking oil. While sugar and salt keep on the rack.

They also will display onion, garlic in basket.

Why people go to sundry store?

People go to sundry store as it is easy and within their reach as the sundry store are located within the vicinity of their house.

It is usually the owner of the shop who also the cashier, making it positive vibes between the owner of the stall and customers.

Back then, my reason as kids is a bit different.

When I was young, I used to go to sundry shop to get snacks such as chocolates and sweets. Sometimes, I choose haw flakes, gula-gula bantal and biskut butang.

Wide range of bottles in sundry shop
There are tea, coffee and bottles of sauces.

How does the sundry shop differ from grocery shop?

There is a concept in the sundry shop that been practiced before this especially in the 70s that make it differ from grocery shop.

Some of this sundry shop give credit to customers that could not afford to pay on exact time. This is based on trust between the customer and owner of the store.

They will keep a record of the customer that they give credit in small book known as “buku 555” or triple 5 book.


The sundry shop is always evergreen in our community.

Even though there are many markets such as supermarket, hypermarket and wet market their presence is still remain relevant in the society today.

The practise of patronising the sundry shop was passed down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me, her daughter.

The old good memories are kept in my mind and I believe others would have similar experiences too.

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