After watching an Indonesian rom-com about a man running a thrift store filled with stuff from people’s exes, Malaysian engineer Hazim Azaman decided to bring the story to life online.
Since October, the 27-year-old has been running Kedai Pernah Sayang, or Once-Loved Store, on Instagram, where he helps Malaysia’s jilted lovers mend their broken hearts and move on from their break-ups by selling their ex-lovers’ gifts or pre-owned items. From expensive Swarovski necklaces to bags and even a US$2,500 mattress, these items grace his online store’s feed and are usually paired with notes by his clients about their bad romance.
“I never loved you,” a caption for a black Charles & Keith handbag said, while a pair of Puma shoes had a caption that said: “Looks don’t last.”
It was the Netflix movie Toko Barang Mantan starring Indonesian actor Reza Rahadian that spawned the idea behind his new business venture.
“I’m a big fan of Reza Rahadian, who starred in the movie,” Hazim told Coconuts in a recent interview. “When I watched Toko Barang Mantan on Netflix, I thought that someone should make this shop happen in real life because it’s so special.”
Soon after launching his online store, Kedai Pernah Sayang gained thousands of followers after someone spread the word on Twitter. In the past four months, the Instagram account garnered 21,000 followers and sold nearly 400 items. It’s a pretty lucrative business considering that couples usually exchange valuable items, according to Hazim, who earns a commission. He did not reveal how much he has earned off other people’s pre-loved goods.
“It’s quite profitable because it’s an online platform,” he said. “Kedai Pernah Sayang doesn’t have to pay anything else except for the staff’s salary. Plus now we have just released our new merchandise, car fragrance.”
The most expensive item listed on the page was a mattress that costs RM10,000 (US$2,500), but no-one has bought it yet. Someone even tried to sell a lingerie set she used to wear for her partner, but Hazim declined since his followers were mostly conservative, according to him.
“I would love to list it [lingerie set] because it is part of someone’s story, but I have to think about the sensitivity of our followers,” he said.
Cheating tops reasons for break-ups
Being cheated on seems to be the most popular reason behind failed relationships, according to Hazim, whose clients would contact him in the wee hours with sob stories of their love life along with the things they want to sell.
“Most people want to sell their stuff at night when they’re feeling vulnerable with their 3am thoughts,” he said. “We’re usually busy until 3am … We don’t only sell people’s stuff, we’ll ask them to share their stories as well.”
“Cheating is the number one cause of breakups,” Hazim said. “Whether it’s the man or the woman who cheats, it’s the same.”
Some of his clients would even rate their hate towards their exes out of 10, or prefer to remain anonymous, according to Hazim. A cryptic note for a pair of women’s shoes said: “You will search for me in another person but I promise you’ll never find me.”
Hazim thinks that his clients find comfort in talking to him about their relationship problems.
“We want to help people to move on, so they don’t feel so alone and can feel good about themselves again,” he said.
If he could give one piece of advice to the broken-hearted, it would be to not let the pain of a breakup get to you.
“If you want to cry, just cry,” he said. “The pain you are feeling now is real, but don’t let it consume you. Your ex-partner is not your everything. Find a reason to be happy again.”
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This article, Inspired by rom-com, Malaysian man opens online store selling stuff from people’s exes, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company.