There are several things that Singapore is known for—it is clean and green, the streets are safe and the food is other-worldly. Then there is The Great Singapore Sale. Millions of tourists arrive every year to enjoy a healthy dose of retail therapy in Singapore.
Orchard Road located in the city is the country’s main shopping belt but the fact is that there are malls scattered all throughout the country and shopping is a major local pastime.
Though if you have just made the move to Singapore, you probably want to shop at stores that are a little less cookie-cutter and that you are less likely to find anywhere else. Here are eight cool stores on the little red dot where you can discover more interesting and unusual items.
Singapore Trading Post
With two outlets (one at Tan Boon Liat Building and the other at Jelita Shopping Centre) on the island, Singapore Trading Post is home decor and furniture store that will likely prove to be a fun shopping expedition for seekers of vintage and vintage-looking finds.
If you are keen to spruce up your new home with some more unexpected pieces, the shop is inspired by the British East India Trading Company and stocks items that are sourced from all over Southeast Asia, China, India, Vietnam, Burma and Indonesia. From plantation chairs to rattan chests, you’ll see and feel the influence of colonial Singapore throughout the store.
The Green Collective
If saving the environment is on top of your list of to-dos, The Green Collective may just become your go-to store. This eco-friendly lifestyle store located at Kinex showcases brands both local and international that produce sustainable and ethically-made products.
From bamboo straws to organic food items and Castille soaps that are devoid of wasteful packaging, the store hopes to encourage customers to zero waste behaviour and plastic-free, and sells groceries and sundries that are devoid of packaging. Of course, remember to bring your own reusable bags and containers if you plan on shopping there.
The Farm Store
For a distinctive Singaporean flavour, check out The Farm Store, a place that works with local designers to produce items that speak to the Singaporean identity. From a tissue packet with a print of the old purple parking coupons that you can use to ‘chope’ tables with, to a tote bag with clear illustrations on how to order your teh in Singapore, to a jar of pineapple tart marmalade or a gorgeous limited edition Nonya platter dish, this is where you can find some amazing souvenirs and fun reminders of this quirky island nation.
SIFR Aromatics, located on Arab Street, is an independent perfumery founded by Johari Kazura, whose relationship with perfumes started with his granddad Hanifa Kazura, who had a small perfume store located in the Kampong Glam district in the 1930s. Here, you can create a customised scent using a range of ingredients that the store provides, and your unique fragrance can be bottled in beautiful bottles that are handmade by Johari.
You’ll also find premade perfumes (these scents are periodically rotated) for sale in this warm and inviting store, along with candles, soaps and salves.
The General Co
If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind, bespoke goods with quality craftsmanship, this is the place to go. You can request hand-cut, hand-stitched leather bags with customised initials to finely crafted woodwork that make perfect gifts for VIPs, good friends or even for yourself. The store on Tyrwhitt Road also has a space where you can shop for some fun and unique item.
The General Co also offers workshops if you are keen to broaden your skillsets, from gift-wrapping classes and terrarium creation to silversmithing and leather-stitching.
Littered With Books
If you love a good book, one that is made from paper and that you can hold and flip in your hands, then you will understand that there is nothing like the smell of a traditional bookshop. And Littered With Books is a quaint two-storey bookshop nestled within a shophouse on Duxton Road that carries a diverse genre of books for all, including non-fiction, travel, best-sellers, literary classics and children’s books. The books here are not only found on the bookshelves; they are also strewn on tables and chairs around the store, hence its very appropriate name. Nothing beats browsing for books in an independent store with a ton of personality—Book lovers should definitely make a stop here.
This is a shop for awesome knick-knacks and a resident cat named Chestnut. Located at Bras Basah Complex, this charming, cosy indie retail store is the place to go to collect quirky tote bags, clothing, homeware, books, music and postcards, many with a Singapore theme. With a name like Cat Socrates, rest assured that there is also a variety of cat-related merchandise in store!
If you are staying in the East of Singapore, you don’t need to make the trek to Bras Basah Complex. Check out their second branch in Katong and visit their other store cat, Zoo-Zoo.
This independent record store along Joo Chiat Road is a chilled-out find for music lovers who love a touch of nostalgia. The store stocks both new and pre-owned records from a range of genres including jazz, pop and rock, with a new inventory of used titles added every week. The shophouse is decked out with comfortable seating (sofas, rugs and cushions) so that you can relax and really get into the music.