Yesterday, the new mall, Tampines 1, was packed with these flower arrangements to the point that they had to be shifted around constantly to make room for customers.
In fact, the store that seemed to be drawing the largest crowd, UNI QLO, actually moved their arrangements to a column in the center of the walkway in front of their store to make way for a line of people waiting to get in. I’m not too sure what the deal is with UNI QLO, except that it’s supposed to be a premier fashion line in Japan and people seemed particularly excited to get in. I’ll have to take a look around there soon, but I’ll wait until it’s not so crowded.
Apparently these flower arrangements are significant enough to keep on display even though it impedes customer traffic. Most are marked with cards from other business, or perhaps financial backers, offering “best wishes” and “luck.” Maybe that’s all it really boils down to? The concept that having these arrangements in front of your business on opening day is good luck? Sort of like how most Singaporeans and Filipinos I’ve met have a fear of black cats?
The last US business I went to on opening day was quite a few years ago. It was a Johnny Carrino’s in Columbus, Georgia. I don’t recall seeing anything like this there, so I’m wondering if it’s particular to Singapore, to Chinese culture, to Asia, or if I’ve been living under a rock and just never noticed them in the US before.
Singapore has a heavy shopping culture. Imagine your high school days when you had to wear the right clothes to be part of the “in” crowd. Now imagine that experience on crack. You’ll sort of get the picture. Most of the younger Singaporeans pride themselves on their handbags, mobile phones, shoes or having the newest Mango apparel. They crave the latest and greatest items and pursue the hottest fashion trends. I suppose there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Singaporean love for shopping, but it definitely takes some getting used to. Keeping that in mind, imagine the chaos that surrounds the opening of a new mall, especially one in a prime location.
The mall was packed tight with people and everyone was excited to explore the mall and see all of the new shops. While walking through the mall I saw people of all ages, as if elderly mothers and fathers had been dressed and dragged out of the house for the big event. I also saw quite a few foreigners wandering around, which is highly unusual for an area so far from downtown Singapore. In fact, the people were almost as fascinating and entertaining as the mall itself.
Unfortunately, it seems that there was such a rush to cash in on the excitement and newness factor that the mall was opened before it was completely finished. With the interior of the mall not quite polished, the “Wow” effect wasn’t as great as it could’ve been. For example, the tile flooring was still a bit dusty and the fountain on the bottom floor seemed more like it was leaking than running. While I was walking around the mall I sneezed frequently and I was happy to be able to blow my nose when I got home later.
Besides the incompleteness of the mall itself, not all of the stores were open. In fact, some were still under construction, including the HSBC bank pictured below, which is on the lower level. Hope you brought cash with you, because these ATMs are still down for the count!
Handling all of these minor (and in some cases major) issues, work crews were scattered throughout the mall, hurriedly trying to apply their finishing touches. Still, they did a great job getting the place ready before opening the doors today. Just a week ago I would have said that the mall couldn’t have been opened any earlier than the end of the month, judging by the exterior and what I could see through the windows. They must have been pulling all-nighters to make sure they met their opening deadline, or at least partially met it.
Still, those minor eye sores didn’t detract from the overall appearance of the mall. Have a look at the shot below, which was taken from the top floor near the Petstation store.
The overall effect of the mall and the quality of the decor in the shops is reminiscent of the malls you find along Orchard. When the interior of this mall is actually completed, it should be fantastic!
Also, as a side note, if you take a close look in photo above (click it for a larger image) you’ll see an information panel on the ground floor near the round railing that lists the stores in the mall. Going a step beyond the average poster board, this little marvel is completely touch screen and interactive. Despite its lonely appearance in this photo, every time I tried to get near it there was a mob of people trying to play with it, so I couldn’t really dig into it to see if it went further than just listing locations. It does feature a nifty “You Are Here” arrow though!
One of the special things about Tampines 1 is that the building designers seemed to have recognized peoples’ desire to just hang out at the mall and incorporated it into their building plans. Tampines 1 has multiple outdoor viewing decks that you can relax on. The lower viewing deck offers a very nice, mostly unobstructed view of the Tampines Central area as well. As with the rest of the mall, these areas seemed a bit unfinished, especially in the lack of benches, but there’s definitely potential in these areas for cart vendors and perhaps an outdoor coffee shop.
Also, here’s a shot I took of the Tampines MRT station from the lower viewing deck:
One of the great things about this mall is the variety of stores. I was somewhat concerned that this mall would be just a rehash of what was already available in the two existing malls: Tampines Mall and Century Square. Thankfully, this didn’t turn out to be the case. There are a few stores that seem to have migrated over, Times being the one that sticks out most in my mind. It was a good choice for them to make the move. One of the problems with Century Square and Tampines Mall is that the store spaces were just too small. Tampines 1 is generous with its floor space and Times took advantage of that to bring in a wider variety of books, which will be better for their business in the long run. Like I said, though, there are plenty of new stores, or new to Tampines anyways, and I’m glad that I have one less reason to have to venture all the way down to Orchard just for shopping.
Something my wife and I love to do is eat out at good restaurants. The few that were previously available in the malls in Tampines were starting to get old, so I’m glad to see that there are some new options. Here are some I’m very excited to try in the near future:
This first one is called Manpuku, and is a Japanese food restaurant. In the second photo you can see some of the menu items. The wall to the right of the restaurant entrance is a glass display area that showcases their offerings. It’s really a great way to encourage people to try the food and keep coming back for more.
This second restaurant is called Sushi Tei. Looking into the restaurant, the first thing you’ll notice is the conveyor belt of sushi dishes sliding past the bar. It’s a very entertaining and engaging setup and reminded me of the sushi restaurant located near the gym and pool just a short distance from Century Square. I took a look at the menu and the prices are reasonable for most of the items, though the food at the sushi place by the gym looked better and is better priced. I wish I could remember the name of the place.
There were a few other restaurants I noticed but most of them were generic.
The last place I want to mention is called “teadot”. My wife and I enjoy having tea in the evening sometimes, so I’m excited to try this place out. Coffee Bean and Starbucks serve tea, but more as just an option than with any real focus. “teadot” should be a nice treat, and besides that, look at the furnishings. It would be cool just to sit there.
Overall, Tampines 1 is a fantastic addition to the shopping scene in the Tampines area and I’m sure my wife and I will be spending a lot of time there in the future, window shopping and actually shopping too!
I hope you enjoyed my review of Tampines 1 and I hope you enjoy your first trip there!