Baking equipment store in a Penang Heritage constructing

Baking accessories shop in a Penang Heritage building

What gives a city its character and a sense of community is its rich history.

Located on Carnarvon Street, Penang is a historic building that has existed since the late 19th century. Once a bookstore and electronics store, the abandoned store had a charm that can only come from an old structure.

The Sim Company team loved its history and its central location in Georgetown and decided to renovate it to expand the baked goods business.


Sim was founded in 1938 by Chew Sim Chuan and the late Khoo Eng Chong. It is now run by Chew Chye Hin and Jerry Tan who are the 2nd and 3rd generation of the family, respectively.

As inventory increased, the store needed more space to display its confectionery and provide customers with a better shopping experience. Thus, the aforementioned building offered a great opportunity.

Instead of tearing down the space and turning it over, the two decided to keep its architecture and design. It was her way of protecting Carnarvon Street’s history in its golden age.

Normal wear and tear is expected to withstand the environment and daily use of old structures. To renovate it, the team was shouldered with a mountain of renovation work.

Renovation of the abandoned building / Photo credit: Sim Company

They also had to make sure that the old business was safe for both their employees and their customers. The largest cost component came from securing the floor, roofs, and the main beam that held the structure.

Also, most baking ingredients need to be kept in a cool atmosphere to maintain their quality. Therefore air conditioning and the appropriate ventilation slots had to be installed.

Their plans were further delayed when the 2020 MCO came. Late deliveries of materials and SOPs imposed on construction workers caused significant delays.

“Basically everything was a mess. It took us over a year to get everything done, ”said Chye Hin and Jerry.

In total, the team spent almost a five-digit sum to make the bakery shop look like it is today.

A one stop port for bakers / Image Credit: Sim Company

A nostalgic backdrop

Refurbishing old buildings not only adds character to the area, it can also help attract businesses. Due to Sim’s sentimental appearance, it acts as a charming backdrop for photos taken by local tourists and local residents.

Some curiously entered the shop to find out what was hiding in the building, as the simple “SIM” signage in the shop doesn’t reveal much. Behind the glass doors, visitors come across shelves with baking equipment and baskets in which basic ingredients are stored.

Everything you could possibly need to bake your masterpiece can be found here / Photo credit: Sim Company

Thanks to the flavors of sugary baked goods, the colorful selection of sprinkles and their cool air, I feel a certain joy in bakery stores. Even if I had nothing to do, the ambience is usually enough to convince me to buy an item or two.

Chye Hin and Jerry told Vulcan Post that this tends to be the behavior of those who enter their store too. After walking around and taking pictures, they went out with some goods themselves.

They shared that this helped increase the store’s sales, which was an untapped strategy in their previous store (which is now used as the Sims storage unit).

While some of Sim’s business is pedestrianized, having one-stop shop for bakers in Georgetown has helped them across the MCO.

“For MCO 2.0, we will do our best to understand our customers’ buying habits and deliver deliveries to those who prefer not to leave their homes,” they said.

Therefore, the team’s short-term goal is to go digital, as customers can initially only order via Facebook or by phone in the shop.

In the long term, Chye Hin and Jerry hope to expand Sim to other locations in Malaysia.

  • You can find out more about Sim Company here.
  • Here is another company that has renovated an old historic building for its business.

Selected image source: Sim Company

Joseph Hubbard

Joseph Hubbard is a seasoned journalist passionate about uncovering stories and reporting on events that shape our world. With a strong background in journalism, he has dedicated his career to providing accurate, unbiased, and insightful news coverage to the public.

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