Established in 2004 by Alan Yoon, Beano, a store specialising in soy milk, has weathered its fair share of storms. First, there was the spike in prices of raw materials – soybeans, sugar, petrol. Then there was the Lehman Brothers scandal that affected economies around the world. And now, we have a generation-defining crisis that's sure to have ramifications for years to come.
“This time is something I’ve never come across before,” says Alan. “I thought those times were bad. But this? This time is worse.”
Before the circuit breaker measures were announced, Beano would get the main bulk of its profits from selling soy milk to other businesses. But for a month since the stay-home measures were announced and dining out was banned, Beano’s business plunged to “less than 10 percent” of what it previously brought in.
“We were eating grass,” says Alan, referring to a phrase in Hokkien that describes a situation when there’s little to no money available. “There was a really drastic cut in revenue,” he adds.
Despite that, the business owner insisted on keeping his full-time staff employed and paying their full wage. They still continue brewing soy milk at 4.30am daily to ensure freshness, but the lack of business meant that by 8am, the workers would have nothing left to do for the rest of the day.
“It was very difficult,” says Alan.