A grocery business born out of the pandemic
The pandemic had taken its toll on gyms and personal trainers were left with very few clients to train.
Seeing an uncertain future, PT of 12 years, Harizon Ramli, had quickly transitioned into the grocery business, selling fresh food, fruits and vegetables, as well as dry goods at a shop in Wangsa Maju.
“Demand for basic items like fresh food will sustain anytime; during the pandemic, there is even higher demand as people shop online,’’ said Harizon.
After Wangsa Maju, Harizon will set up his next shop in Sendayan, where he is stlll looking for a suitable premise.
He is also eyeing more opportunities online, and also plans to breed freshwater fish for which there is a big market.
The focus now is to make sure that his current, three-month-old shop, called Ayam TanSeri, is well-managed, with good workflow.
“During the pandemic when many small businesses have closed down, we have to learn how to maintain the business,’’ said Harizon.
To reach out online, he has signed up with The Artisans Haven, and other platforms such as Food Panda; his own website ‘orderla’ is advertised regularly on Facebook from where he gets many orders.
Harizon had started his business online, and from the demand, realized that he could open a shop in a good location.
Ayam TanSeri was launched on October 9, under the Biz Hall program of the Bank Rakyat Foundation, for bumiputra entrepreneurs.
With his shop near a residential area where there is high spending power, Harizon is also lucky to be located opposite a construction site.
Ayam TanSeri is the main shop in the area for these construction workers who buy on credit; through their supervisor, they make payments twice a month, which include a ‘transaction fee’ of RM2 per person.
Besides their regular duties, his two staff also include cook lunch packs for the workers, based on demand for that day.
Harizon has two chat groups with regular customers and the workers opposite, where he updates them on any good prices, and the latest offerings.
So far, he has held two online promotions which received good response from customers in Wangsa Maju, Bangi, Kajang, Setia Alam and other parts of the Klang Valley.
With the new year promotion coming up, he will be preparing for more supplies; Harizon does his own online delivery for these promotions and also for everyday orders.
Chickens, which he gets from a halal factory in Puchong, are the most popular item.
Fish comes from the wholesale markets in Seri Kembangan and Selayang; some types of fish are supplied straight from the jetty.
Waking up at 6am daily, he sets about ordering and collecting the food supplies, while monitoring the changing prices everyday.
With his plan to rear freshwater fish, he will go for training, and research and development on how to rear tilapia, puyu and keli.
For the past year, he has been rearing lobsters and has sold two batches online.
“ The margin is quite high for supplies of freshwater fish,’’ said Harizon. “They are also easy to breed.’’
Harizon is no stranger to the food business; at the age of six or seven, he was already seeing his mother, Joraidah, cooking tomato rice, laksa and many local dishes for sale which includes catering.
His aunts and uncles, from his mother’s family, are mostly involved in the food business, selling at stalls, Ramadhan markets and canteens.
One of his uncles is a chef, while another runs a restaurant.
Together with his three siblings, Harizon would go to the market with his mother, learn to select all the fresh produce and bring them home.
In 2018, he and his wife Anna, also a PT, had tried to sell grilled chicken, with Anna’s special marinade, in Puchong.
They had good response from online customers and their PT clients, but found that it was time consuming, as they were also holding full time and free lance PT jobs.
Now that they are in the food business, they may open a segment in healthy food and also offer grilled salmon and beef.
Harizon is now running Ayam TanSeri on his own; if he gets a partner, it should be someone with experience in the food industry.
Having spent the last 12 years carving a name for himself in PT, Harizon will now do his utmost to bring his food business to greater levels of success.
By Yap Leng Kuen, Chief Storyteller, The Artisans Haven.