This S’porean Turned His Vintage Collection Of 2.5K Items Into A Biz
In recent years, the Marie Kondo-inspired minimalism trend has been making waves around the world.
However, David Wee, 37, does not appear to be part of this trend. Instead, the founder of Wee’s Collection has done the exact opposite and has over 2,500 vintage items in his two-story patio house.
The former official got his first vintage object – an F&N glass – more than 20 years ago.
He has since fallen in love with the collection of vintage objects. From high school to national service and even when he was working full time, his interest in vintage collectibles never faltered.
David would spend his weekends looking for new items to add to his collection, even going as far as to travel to Kuala Lumpur and return during the day.
From passion project to business
David told Vulcan Post that over time his collection has grown from a simple passion project to a full-fledged business.
In 2012, he decided to quit his full-time job in the public service.
The opportunity for him to turn Wee’s Collection into a business came knocking on his door when he was approached by a community center that was interested in renting some of his items for an event.
“I invited them to look at my collection, and that sparked the idea of renting my collectibles,” David said to himself.
During the early years of running Wee’s Collection, the company focused on the rental and sale of vintage items. Subsequently, customers began to search for more comprehensive event packages.
I slowly brought Wee’s collection into the event realm and started hosting heritage events. When there is a demand it means that an opportunity is there and I usually take it as a chance to further develop my business.
– David Wee, founder of Wee’s Collection
So David began to branch out into full-fledged event planning and management for clients, which sometimes included providing a Kacang Puteh cart and play Kampong Games.
However, the first few years of running Wee’s Collection were difficult. David had to rely on his savings and received little or no salary.
Plus, social media wasn’t as prevalent back then, and David and his wife had to go door to door giving out business cards to market themselves.
Things didn’t start to improve until a few years after the founding of Wee’s Collection.
According to David, his big breakup came in 2015 – the year Singapore celebrated its 50th anniversary.
“Suddenly everyone wanted to host vintage or heritage events, and that was the turn where audiences started hearing more from us,” David said.
To date, Wee’s Collection has served over 600 clients, including DBS, Facebook, Grab, Mediacorp, etc.
Heritage at heart
More recently, David set up a gallery showcasing his collection of objects last month.
The vintage enthusiast said the Covid-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise for the gallery, as it gave him time to finally build something he had ‘wanted for years’.
So far he has run virtual events and also plans to participate in a virtual gallery tour.
Besides acting as a showroom for clients, David’s gallery attracts a crowd of different people. For example, many families of three generations come to the museum.
Seniors remember, and many of them say they never expect to see all of these items again. On the other hand, the younger ones get to understand our heritage better, ”said David.
In about a month, the gallery has already welcomed more than a thousand visitors.
Even though David has developed many lines of business for Wee’s Collection, he shared that the heart of the business lies in preserving heritage, which is his passion.
Therefore, it aims to further explore aspects of “heritage”, such as the rental of carts. Expanding its online presence is also on the agenda.
Featured Image Credit: Hype And Stuff / Wee’s Collection
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