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 All the efforts put into producing a good book will be in vain if it is not read. Conversely, a good book that leaves its imprint though the generations is known as a classic. The story of POPULAR’s 97 years in Singapore is just like such a classic, built on the support of the people through the generations. POPULAR’s mission to serve the people has remained the same all these years, as all POPULAR staff have been steadfast in their commitment to providing the best service to our customers despite the various challenges along the way. The COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020 has caused severe disruptions to the retail industry at large, and bookstores have not been spared either. What has kept us going is our POPULAR members and customers, as every expression of their gratitude – be it a simple “Thank You”, a smile, or a letter of appreciation – brightens the day of the POPULAR staff serving our customers at all our outlets across Singapore. On 28 June 2021, an article titled "Don't Forget Bras Basah Complex" was published in Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore’s leading Chinese newspaper. Written by Ms Tan Hui Yi, she reminisced about the years that she and her family had spent in POP@Central, POPULAR’s flagship store in Bras Basah Complex. Her affection for the bookstores is apparent between the lines, and her story has warmed the hearts of the many POPULAR staff. A Flagship Store Filled With Memories Ms Tan’s story is an opportunity for us to gain a deeper understanding of the role that POPULAR has played in the lives of our customers through the years. Calling Bras Basah Complex her favourite destination, Ms Tan shared that her parents would often bring her sister and her to the bookstores located within Bras Basah Complex to encourage them to read more. They would usually shop at the POPULAR Bookstore in Bras Basah Complex 30 years ago, dubbed by her family as the “main store”. Now, she and her husband are bringing their children to POP@Central to shop for books. Comparing the current store with the one in her childhood memory, Ms Tan wrote that although the décor of the store and the books have changed, what has not is the conducive ambience for reading. Ms Tan told Popular News that her parents have been POPULAR members since she was two or three years old. In fact, her father is still a POPULAR member after more than 30 years. She recalled that her family would head to the “main store” to buy everything for their schooling needs, including textbooks, extracurricular learning materials, workbooks, stationery, and drawing materials. Ms Tan's eldest son will be starting primary school next year, and she intends to help him apply to become a junior POPULAR member. According to Ms Tan, POP@Central’s size has left her with the deepest impression. "As the flagship store, POP@Central was the largest POPULAR Bookstore on the island,” she said. “There were rows of bookshelves packed full of books that included the favourite titles of my sister and me.” Her sister and her would usually spend about two or three hours in every visit to look for books. Once, the sisters were so engrossed in search that they unknowingly wandered away from their favourite section, where their mother had instructed them to remain in. “We ended up getting lost in the ‘main store’!” she said. “We eventually found our way back, where our mother was waiting for us." It is not just Ms Tan and her sister who can still recall fond memories of their time in POP@Central, but their elderly parents too. In fact, their mother remembers that she bought all her recipe books from the “main store”, while their father recalls that their children were always reluctant to leave every time they visited POP@Central. Witnessing the Passage of Time Besides the dazzling array of books and stationery, the staff at POP@Central have also left a lasting impression on Ms Tan with their dedication and commitment to providing good customer service. She recalled that the staff would patiently attend to the queries of their customers, doing their best to assist every customer even when the store was busy. Ms Tan related an incident that she had encountered then: "I remember once I wanted to buy four or five books, but my parents only allowed metopicktwo.”APOPULARstaffoverheard the exchange and helped persuade her to go along with her parents’ instruction by explaining the content and price difference of each book in detail. “In the end, I chose two of my favourite books." It was not long ago when Ms Tan 18 - popularnews 136 

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