Recall those times you’ve hit Plaza Singapura to catch late screenings of the latest movies at GV. Or even catching up with your friends over a meal at one of the many eateries, because it’s so convenient — let’s be real, the mall’s smacked in the middle of Singapore. Whatever the case is, Plaza Singapura has a special place in our hearts. It may not be the newest or swankiest mall in town, but the well-loved, and lasting, establishment sure has lots of history and sentiment we can talk about.
I remember visiting the mall as a kid when my sister used to attend drum classes at Yamaha (which is still located on the top floor of the mall) during the weekends — of which I found myself prancing through toy stores like Build-A-Bear and Seimon-cho, and leaving with a brand new toy in my arm with every visit — call me a hoarder, but I guess that’s where my love for shopping began.
Besides toy shopping, I was also very fond of shopping at stores like GIRLS and Miss Whatever — which offered a wide selection of girls’ wear and accessories, catering to tweens who are becoming more conscious about their fashion sense and identity. I remember being taken away by the vast array of options, always searching for the latest arrivals to splurge on so I could look… relevant.
But Plaza Singapura isn’t just known for its shopping — they had, and still have, a wide range of eateries for us to choose from as well — Western, Japanese, local delicacies, you name it! My family and I were so familiar with all of them, as we found ourselves trying new dishes of sorts every week, simply because the options were e-n-d-l-e-s-s. Of course, what drew me to Plaza Singapura the most, even up to this date, wasn’t just the myriad of retail options or food junctions — in fact, it was just one particular store. You guessed it. Spotlight. DIY materials, Halloween costumes, and everything else under one roof — what’s there not to love?
With 45 years worth of history, Plaza Singapura has definitely found a place in the hearts of many. If you find yourself frequenting the place often and/or let alone wondered what Plaza Singapura was like before what it is today, keep on reading because we’re about to give you a rundown of the mall’s 45-year history. As reader-friendly as possible, don’t worry!
Plaza Singapura first opened its doors in 1974, with seven levels and two basements. This year, the mall turns 45 and its retail business is still alive and kicking despite the harsh reality of brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore.
Fun fact: since Yaohan opened in the space in the early days, many dubbed the mall as ‘Orchard Yaohan’ rather than its original name, Plaza Singapura, as they grew more familiar with the supermarket-cum-department store that proved to be popular amongst the general public.
Fast forward to today, and here’s how the mall looks like now. Gone are the rigid facades of the then-popular brutalist architecture, in favour of sleek curves and glass panels, which definitely looks more modern and inviting.
If you’re new to all of this, you may (or may not) have known that the extended wing of the mall (that now houses more shops and eateries) didn’t exist until 2012 when it underwent an extensive revamp. If you compare what it was before to what it is now, you’d be amazed by the vast difference the mall has gone through over the years.
Now, with recent developments, Plaza Singapura has seen new additions to its retail scene which includes the likes of MUJI Singapore’s flagship store, NomadX and even online brands like Runway Bandits, Fayth and Twee — offering more options for shoppers to choose from.
But most of all, their food options! Sure, you may or may not agree about this but we all have our own particular preferred cuisine that we love (or are willing to try). And where else can you find a vast array of food options than Plaza Singapura itself? Unlike the past, today you can find local and international cuisines and snacks from new eateries like Lokkee, Eggs N Things, Nanjing Impressions, and even the popular Isaac Toast! The thought of it already makes me salivate…
With so much to offer, it’s clear that you have every reason to drag your friends and family along — whether it’s for a casual gathering or a shopping spree with your girlfriends!
REMEMBER THE DAYS WHEN
In the past, Plaza Singapura used to be a hot spot for families and youths alike, with many flocking the place for its one-stop shopping concept. The mall also became popular for its wide array of Japanese chains housing bookstores like Shizuoka Yajimaya, and the iconic Yaohan departmental store.
But that was all in the past, since Yaohan was then taken over by other franchises such as Daimaru and Carrefour (which have also left its mark at the basement of the mall). Of course, you know the rest — these established brands have left Singapore’s market and replaced by retailers such as MUJI Singapore’s Flagship store, Urban Revivo and Cold Storage which caters to family and friends visiting the mall.
FROM YAOHAN TO DAIMARU
So if you’re too young to even know about what Daimaru was all about, let alone, Yaohan, fret not, because we’re on the same boat. When I first got to hear about it, I was absolutely lost — puzzled, in fact, that a store like Yaohan and Daimaru even existed. “Oh, what a millennial.” Well, benefit of the doubt — I was probably still trying to figure out how to walk, considering the fact that Daimaru took over Yaohan in 1997.
But now that I’ve done my research on the place and found out what these two department stores had to offer, I’m actually beyond amazed and wished I was there to see it all.
Yaohan made its stamp when Plaza Singapura was established earlier on in the years — being the first Japanese supermarket chain in Singapore. Besides groceries, the place offered a wide selection of bakeries and snack shops for you to choose from.
A popular crowd favourite from their bakery was the an-pan (a delicious Japanese bun filled with red bean paste), that’s described as a heavenly snack to have on a day out at the mall.
For some, it felt like home, as families adjourned to Yaohan for some R&R with their loved ones. With plenty of space for the kids to run around while the adults go about their grocery shopping for the week. Just one of those simple pleasures and priceless moments that are hard to forget about.
But in 1997, Yaohan closed down as Daimaru took over its space as the next department store at Plaza Singapura, before it then closed its doors in 2003.
THE OGS — PARIS MIKI AND DBS BANK
As we take a trip down memory lane, you’ll start to notice that Plaza Singapura has indeed evolved significantly over the years especially with the change in tenants — all except for two, that were there since the beginning, none other than, Paris Miki and DBS Bank.
If you’ve visited PS recently, you probably would’ve seen this store while window shopping. Located at level three, Paris Miki sets its foot into Plaza Singapura in 1979 and has seen all the changes that the mall has been through. It’s also been said that Paris Miki’s optician, Madam Theresa Tok, is still working at the outlet even after 42 years! (If that’s not dedication we don’t know what is!)
Another tenant that has been around since the early days of Plaza Singapura is DBS Bank. The old DBS Bank was refurbished recently in 2017 and has seen a fresher design to its space with a cafe and branch concept. Just have a look at how fancy banking in a mall has become!
It’s true, a lot has changed since it started — a new look to its structure, new tenants, etc, but despite it all, Plaza Singapura is one that we’d always have at the top of our minds for a place that has everything under one roof.
Look out for monthly surprises as Plaza Singapura celebrates their 45th Anniversary.
From now till 30 April, be the top 45 CapitaStar members with the most number of valid receipts (from Plaza Singapura) scanned and win a fantastic cruise from Dream Cruises!
May 2019: Stand to win a trip worth $500!
June 2019: Come down and participate in the 6m tall water slide at Plaza Singapura.
Check out www.plazasingapura.com.sg for updates of the events and promotions.
Plaza Singapura is located along Orchard Road and is open from 10am to 10pm daily. For more information visit their website and check out the list of eateries available at Plaza Singapura here.
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