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Different ways to shop till you drop
WITH a legacy of almost 20 years as one of the leading retail spaces in Singapore, Suntec City decided to effect a transformation three years ago - not because it needed new customers, but to make space for new tenants.
Yeo See Kiat, CEO of ARA Trust Management (Suntec Ltd), says: "As a mall operator, we must stay relevant. Before the renovations, we had about 99 per cent of our retail outlets occupied, and we just weren't able to accommodate flagship stores because we didn't have the space."
Now, with an expansion of its existing area from 855,000 sq ft to 960,000 sq ft, Suntec City is host to flagship stores of international high street brands Uniqlo and H&M as well as new-concept stores like W Optics which has an eye surgeon on staff who can perform surgical procedures on-site.
The S$410 million renovation process also allowed it to refocus its food and beverage offerings. Mr Yeo explains: "One of our new attractions is the split-level Sky Garden (conceived and designed by international architectural firm Aedas) where you can enjoy the al fresco atmosphere right in the heart of the city. It overlooks the Fountain of Wealth on one side, and has a cityscape view on the other. It's really a beautiful setting for everyone to enjoy."
The Fountain of Wealth, which made the Guinness World Records in 1998 as the world's largest fountain, has also been touched up. There are new water features during the day, and lighting features at night.
Says Mr Yeo: "With the Fountain of Wealth being the largest (fountain) in the world, it attracts a lot of visitors, and we wanted to make exciting changes for them too."
Other additions catering to tourists include the optical illusion museum Alive Museum and The Big Picture, a high definition video wall at the new Suntec Convention Centre which also has a place in the Guinness World Records as the largest of its kind.
Mr Yeo concludes: "While Orchard Road is a world-class shopping belt, there's no direct competition because as an integrated space with office towers, a shopping mall and tourist attractions, we're much more than just shopping."
CERAMICS artist Charlotte Cain so lamented a lack of platform where she and her artist friends could interact directly with their customers that she decided to start her own distinctive shopping concept in 2002 with two friends - mini-boutiques for each vendor at a fair.
The 55-year-old explains: "Each 'booth' isn't just a table with a white tablecloth. The vendors bring in their own carpets, furniture and lighting to create their own personalised space."
The fair is spread out over 23,000 square feet and has an array of home-grown businesses that are mostly design-led and socially responsible - brands such as accessories label Darsala and childrens' fashion label Madie Moo.
Started with just 16 vendors, Boutiques now plays host to 130 booths, with a waiting list of vendors to boot.
Ms Cain, who is originally from Denmark, says: "When we started, there just weren't many people venturing into designing and starting up a business. Now, it's just something that so many people are doing. I used to cold-call businesses to come and exhibit at Boutiques, and now there's a waiting list. It just goes to show how many fantastic Singaporean design-led business are around now."
Ms Cain wants to use the platform to do good too.
Of the current vendors, 10 are charities which are allotted spaces free of charge. The event previously allowed free entry to all but this year, Boutiques will implement an optional entrance donation with all proceeds going directly to local charity for teenage mothers, Babes.
"A lot of people don't realise that there are people in Singapore who need a little bit of extra support. Hopefully, this will create more awareness and get the charities exposure," Ms Cain adds.
Boutiques will be held on Nov 6 and 7 at #02-01 and #02-02 F1 Pit Building, 1 Republic Boulevard, from 9am to 6pm. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/BoutiquesSingapore
CLUB 21 BAZAAR
THE most anticipated sales event in Singapore is back.
The Club 21 Bazaar was started in the 1990s with the objective of clearing past-season inventory.
With more than 20,000 people attending the five-day fair last year, it's safe to say the Bazaar is here to stay.
Along with slashing prices up to 90 per cent, Club 21 has started a new charity initiative this year.
A Club 21 spokesperson says: "We've partnered with The Singapore Committee for UN Women to raise funds by collecting pre-loved clothes through our shared initiative Style It Forward, and there'll be a booth at the Pit Building for customers to clear their closets before shopping for great bargains."
The Club 21 Bazaar will take place on Oct 23 and 24 from 10am to 8pm and on Oct 25 from 10am to 6pm at the Pit Building, 1 Republic Boulevard. For more information, please visit club21global.com/club21bazaar