Selling coconut water for 23 years

Ismail picking the coconuts.

A hawker has been operating his roadside drink stall at Bandong Walk in Sibu for the past 23 years.

“To sell drinks, you need to have good products as well as a good strategic location,” explained Ismail Olen, 57.   

And Bandong Walk, he admitted, was a good strategic location.

“Yes, there are a lot of people and traffic in the area and hence, many potential customers for my drink stall,” he added when met at his hawker drink stall at Bandong Walk recently.  

“If I had set up my stall at a remote area, nobody would know about it,” he added.

Ismail pointed out the busy location also provided customers with a sense of security.

“They feel safe because there are many people around,” he explained. 

Ismail prefers selling coconut drink as his main product because it is easier to get coconut fruits from the locals.

“The coconut fruits are unlike other fruits. They bear fruit all year round,” he added.

Ismail slicing the coconut husk.

Besides that, Ismail said he could get his supply of coconut fruits anytime. 

“I get them from Kanowit, Sungei Bidut and Semop,” he explained.

Ismail said the movement control order had greatly affected his business because business activities were not allowed to operate.

“With no income, I had to look for other ways and means of feeding my family.

“So, I worked for others by cutting grass in their fruit orchards,” he recalled.

Ismail, who has a daughter said, “We are very fortunate that we are blessed with a caring government which provided us with aid during the Covid-19 pandemic period.

“The government aid has, in one way or another, eased my family burden.”

Ismail revealed that he began operating his roadside hawker drink stall 23 years ago because he needed to earn a living to feed his family.

“It was very tough in the first few years. Despite having zero experience in operating a drink stall and low business capital, I braved the challenges that came my way with a strong will and determination,” he recalled.

 Ismail said he often prayed to Allah for better days ahead.

“Nowadays, I can earn a few hundred of ringgit per day from   my drink stall which opens from 7am-7pm daily.

“During festivals, I can earn RM1,000 and above in one day,” he added.

The festivals where Ismail used to sell drinks included the Borneo Cultural Festival in Sibu, Sibu Bike Week, Kabong Kite Festival which took place at the Tanjung Kembang Beach in Kabong, Pesta Kaul in Mukah, Pesta Nanas in Sarikei and the Kite International Festival in Bintulu. He has also sold drinks at fun fairs in Bintangor as well as Saratok.

“During festivals, I sell coconut drink, Milo drink, watermelon drink, sugarcane drink, air bandong, bubur buang panas, orange drink and many more,” he said.

Ismail with his customer.