Victoria Street Wholesale Centre (VSWC) houses 41 units with tenants engaged mainly in the sale of groceries and dried provisions. A few tenants also deal in party and catering supplies, disposable plastic products, fabric, hardware, household items and wooden handicraft. It was developed by the Housing Development Board (HDB) with a temporary occupation license in 1997 to house the Ellenborough Market tenants affected by the Relocation Programme.
The history of VSWC dates back to 1891 when vendors of dried seafood products gathered together in a marketplace in Tew Chew Street by the Singapore River (now the site of Merchant Court Swissotel) to do their business. Tew Chew Street then came to be known as a marketplace with the widest variety of reasonably priced dried groceries. However a fire broke out in 1968 and burnt down the market. In 1978, a modern three-storey wholesale centre was built at the same location to house the original tenants. This became the Ellenborough Market. When plans for the construction of the MRT Northeast Line were announced, the wholesale centre was affected and had to relocate to its current premises at Victoria Street on a temporary lease agreement, ending 2003. HDB then agreed to extend the lease of Victoria Street Wholesale Centre for another three years until December 2006. After much campaigning by the members of Victoria Street Wholesale Centre Merchants’ Association, HDB has once again extended our lease till September 2009.
Most of the businesses in VSWC are run as traditional -styled businesses. Many of them are family-owned and spans more than one generation. The relationship between many of the tenants of VSWCMA date back to their fathers’ generation. Therefore they share the same heritage and history in the trade. Currently these businesses are at a critical stage of evolution-either fall behind time and be eliminated or modernize and push on. However it is a fact that the dry grocery trade is essential to the food business and there will always be a demand for it.
Victoria Street Wholesale Centre Merchants’ Association (VSWCMA)
Tenants of the wholesale centre have collectively formed an economic grouping under the name Victoria Street Wholesale Centre Merchants’ Association (VSWCMA). The association was officially incorporated in 2000. It was formed to serve as a representative voice for the tenants of the wholesale centre regarding public issues. Many of the major players in the local and regional dry grocery business are members of the VSWCMA. Therefore the VSWCMA also serves as a voice for the local dry provisions industry.
Future Plans of VSWC and VSWCMA
• To become a regional hub for trading of dry goods
• To brand and position the wholesale centre as a tourist attraction
• To educate both local and foreign consumers on the use of products
Renaming of VSWC to VWC
With the effect of 1st April 2012, Victoria Street Wholesale Centre (VSWC) will be renamed to Victoria Wholesale Centre (VWC).