Breakups can be sad, messy, and painful. But where do broken hearts go? Apparently, some of them head to this online shop that promises to sell gifts from people’s exes.
Kedai Pernah Sayang (Once-Loved Store) is an Instagram account created by 27-year-old Hazim Azaman in October. After coming up with the idea, the Malaysia-based engineer first turned to his sister, who had a mug, Instax camera, and MacBook from her ex-boyfriend. She didn’t need them anymore, so Azaman sold them for about $2, $37, and $250 respectively, to one of the store’s earliest followers.
“She had moved on quite a long time ago but the memories are still there. She wanted to get rid of the items because they took up too much space,” Azaman said.
The online store took off within weeks, after someone spread the word on Twitter. Azaman said his inbox was filled with people looking to let go of memories from past relationships.
If this all sounds straight out of a movie, that’s because it is. Azaman was inspired by the Indonesian romantic comedy Toko Barang Mantan (Lit. Marketplace for Exes’ Stuff). In the film, the protagonist runs a shop that, you guessed it, sells stuff from people’s exes.
“I was watching the movie and suddenly, it’s like a light bulb popped up over my head,” Azaman said. “Even though it’s a movie, it should be real. It doesn’t just have to stay a movie.”
So, how does it work? Clients message Azaman’s shop, providing photos and details of the items they would like to sell. Then, they type out their feelings in what Azaman calls a “note to ex,” and rate how much they hate their ex on a scale of 1 to 10. The latter is optional and just for fun, Azaman said.
After screening a client and their item, Azaman posts the pre-loved things on Instagram. Interested buyers comment on the photos so Azaman can connect them with the sellers. He earns a commission from the sales.
The most common items include rings, cameras, watches, and handbags. Once, he even received a request to sell lingerie, but Azaman declined to sell the intimates.
Now his store has about 22,700 followers. It’s a niche business but Azaman thinks it has grown in popularity because people find comfort in opening up about bad relationships.
“Most of our customers will message us early in the morning, after midnight, because that’s when their 3 a.m. thoughts come out and they want to share their stories about them and their ex-partner,” Azaman said, adding that most of the breakup stories he has received involve cheating.
“It happens every day. Every day, I get a DM saying, ‘I caught my boyfriend cheating’ or ‘I caught my girlfriend cheating’.”
One woman who sold her ex-boyfriend’s motorcycle helmet through Azaman’s shop left a note for her ex that said: “Messing up one time is OK. But you messing up more than three times with different girls in the same room — why didn’t you just make her pregnant instead? It’s so easy to become a father!”
Another guy, who sold a watch from his ex-girlfriend, wrote: “My mom really wanted you to be my bride, but you ended up doing shitty actions.”
According to Azaman, his sister is now happier, after letting go of the items from her ex-boyfriend.
Although Azaman can’t relate to his customers’ stories, he said that he can connect with them over their feelings of pain. Ultimately, Azaman hopes that his business can help people move on.
“I want to help people move on. They don’t have to be stuck in their past because it’s never good for them. It’s never good for their mental health, it’s never good for their future, it’s never good for anything.”