In recent years, the Marie Kondo-inspired trend of minimalism has been making waves all over the world.
However, 37-year-old David Wee does not seem to partake in this trend. Instead, the founder of Wee’s Collection has been doing just the opposite, and has over 2,500 vintage items in his two-storey terrace house.
The former civil servant collected his first vintage item — an F&N glass — more than 20 years ago.
Since then, he fell in love with collecting vintage items. From secondary school to national service and even when he was working full-time, his interest in vintage collectibles never wavered.
David would spend his weekends scouring for new items to add into his collection, even going so far as driving to Kuala Lumpur and back in a day.
From Passion Project To Business
David told Vulcan Post that as time went on, his collection evolved from being just a passion project to a full-fledged business.
In 2012, he decided to quit his full-time job in the civil 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 centre that was interested in renting some of his items for an event.
“I invited them over to look at my collection, and that sparked off the idea of renting my collectibles,” David mused.
For the first few years of running Wee’s Collection, the business was focused on renting and selling vintage items. Subsequently, customers started looking for more comprehensive event packages.
I slowly brought Wee’s Collection into the events sphere, and began running heritage events. When there’s a demand, it means that an opportunity is present, and I usually take it as a chance to further develop my business.
– David Wee, founder of Wee’s Collection
So, David started branching out into planning and running full-fledged events for clients which sometimes included the provision of a Kacang Puteh cart and playing Kampong games.
However, the first few years of running Wee’s Collection was tough. David had to rely on his savings, and drew little to no salary.
Furthermore, social media wasn’t as rampant back in the day, and David and his wife had to go door-to-door to give out name cards to get exposure.
Things only started picking up a few years after Wee’s Collection’s founding.
According to David, his big break came in 2015 — the year Singapore celebrated its 50th year of independence.
“Suddenly, everybody wanted to host vintage or heritage events, and that was the turning point when the public began to hear of us more,” shared David.
To date, Wee’s Collection has served over 600 clients, including DBS, Facebook, Grab, Mediacorp, and more.
Heritage At Its Core
Most recently, David has set up a gallery showcasing his collection of items just last month.
The vintage enthusiast said that the Covid-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise with regard to the gallery, as it gave him the time to finally build something he had “wanted to for years”.
So far, he has conducted virtual events, and plans to go into a virtual gallery tour too.
Besides acting as a showroom for clients, David’s gallery attracts a host of different people. For instance, many three-generational families drop by the museum.
The senior folks reminisce, and a lot of them say they never expect to see all these items again. On the other hand, the younger folks get to understand more about our heritage,” said David.
In about a month, the gallery has already seen over a thousand visitors.
Even though David has come up with many business verticals for Wee’s Collection, he shared that the core of the business lies in preserving heritage, which is his passion.
Hence, he aims to go into more aspects of “heritage”, such as cart rentals. Expanding his online presence is also on the cards.
Featured Image Credit: Hype And Stuff / Wee’s Collection