There is a provision shop at a HDB Block in Hougang that operates without a shopkeeper.
A handmade cash register displays instructions on how to pay for items you want to buy. You just need to show the price tag to any one of the eight CCTV) cameras in the shop and place the money into a slot. To get your change, just press the button on the cash register.
A former air force technician started running this provision shop with no shopkeeper in June 2015. He came up with this idea to cut manpower and operation cost. He found it difficult to find shopkeepers. He made his own “robot cash register” at less than $200.
But does this honest system work? Would his customers do the right thing or would he return to find an empty shop one day?
After running his “shopkeeper-less” shop for over a year he has many stories to tell.
A man pretended to pay for a can of luncheon meat at the register. He used his head to block the CCTV camera. But he did not realize that another CCTV camera in front of the register caught him putting the coins into his mouth instead. This man is still at large. But his photograph was plastered around the store.
It seems that some of these thieves whose photos were put up actually came back to apologize and return the money.
The shop owner would almost always let them off the hook whenever they approach him to confess.
He said, “If one person can change for the better and not steal anymore in future – it is worth it!” Like the case of three children, all siblings stole food and drinks worth over $10 at his store. The cameras caught them very clearly. After their photos were put up, their mother made them pay back and apologize with a written letter. Needless to say, it woke the kids up.
The owner of this no shopkeeper shop said, “I have caught people of all ages. A lady who dressed up very nicely … A student with a look fitting of a scholar … An old man who looked innocent and helpful.”
Yet still, according to him, 98 per cent of his patrons are honest.
The question remains – Are there people who are honest even when no surveillance cameras are watching them?
There are such people. They don’t need CCTVs, auditors or governance regulations to keep them honest.
They are found in II Kings 12:15.
“They did not require an accounting from those to whom they gave the money to pay the workers, because they acted with complete honesty.”
May we be numbered among them.