The old lady, Ngiu Kee department store, at Jalan Masjid Lama (Old Mosque Road) opened between 1980s-1992 (year?). It is located near the site of the former wooden mosque. If you park behind the department store, don't freak out because you can see the serene Malay graveyard with its traditional tombs.
The first supermarket was called Sarikei (Kuching owner) at the former Public Bank block at Jalan Masjid Lama at CNY 1983 but it closed after less than one year. When it first opened, department stores in this small town were still a novelty. Swee Hung was the other smaller department store. Many people window shopped for the air con comfort instead of buying something then.
The supermarket is situated on the ground floor. It brought in new varieties of goods including a better range of toiletries and dairy products like yoghurt. There's also a hard liqour section that's locked in a glass display. Excuse me, how much is that XO?
The first level is cluttered with the men's section, women's apparels and kids' stuff. I know, I know, you don't like those bored salespeople watching you at every aisle you browse in. Well, this is typical of a small town - the salespeople are there to watch you rather than service you.
You have to give credit to Ngiu Kee for bringing in a bigger range of apparels. For example, it carried a small Ralph Lauren range at one stage but it was ahead of its time because not many people wanted to fork out that amount on a polo shirt or cologne. It also commercialised festive dates beyond the local festivals with dates like Valentine's Day. When you are in puppy love, you will buy anything, right? Right.
The third level has a mish mash of stationery, festive stuffs like lanterns and ang pow, toys, bedsheets, tools, electrical appliances, etc.
The latest department store entrant, Nam Leong, has set the bar higher with attractive displays and wide aisles. Will Ngiu Kee aim to leap over that bar?
Maybe you don't really care because the shopper in you still prefers the laid back and friendly towkays in the traditional shops who ask you whether you have eaten yet.
NGIU KEE - The oldest Retail Chain in Malaysia. 马来西亚最古老的零售连锁店
Ngiu Kee was established in 1953 in Sibu to target the mass middle income group. It was incorporated in Malaysia on 26 Mar 1996 as Ngiu Kee Corporation (M) Sdn. Bhd. In preparation for its listing on the Second Board of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad, it was converted into a public limited company on 23 May 1996 and assumed the name Ngiu Kee Corporation (M) Berhad ( NKC ) Group.
It is an investment holding company with subsidiary companies operating supermarkets and departmental stores in Kuching, Bau, Sibu, Sarikei, Mukah, Bintulu, Limbang, Lawas and KK. It became a household name in Sarawak for at least 3 generations. It opened in Sarikei in 1990 and BB (Bangga Budi) replaced it in Jan 2014. Thanks for the air con retail therapy and memories.