The Great Singapore Sale
It's been a long time since I was last in Singapore for the Great Singapore Sale. This year, I have dedicated myself to laying some roots in Singapore, the country that I call home. What that means for me is to re-orientate myself with the local culture. I have been going to museums and kopitiams in search for that, but I couldn't find the essence I was looking for. They only represent the subcultures of Singapore; I am looking for the common thread in every Singaporean. Apparently, I have been looking in all the wrong places.
If there is anything to define as Singaporean culture, it is kiasu-ness. Second to that, it has to be the national hobby of shopping. The Great Singapore Sale embodies both.
On the first day of the Great Singapore Sale, I took a self-declared holiday from my writing and went shopping. Wanting to have a good and early start, I reached Wisma Atria at 10.45 am. Wisma Atria is the perfect place to start as it is linked to Orchard MRT station; and it is located at the heart of Singapore's shopping district.
Most of the shops were not even open when I got there. Only major department stores like Isetan had opened their doors for business. At Isetan, I tried on about a dozen outfits. They all looked good on the hangers, but not on me. They were going at such good discounts that I wanted to buy them anyway. Thank goodness my rationality returned before I reached the cash register.
By then, all the other shops were open. I conscientiously went into each and every shop in Wisma Atria, but ended up buying nothing. And so, I returned to Isetan to purchase a Calvin Klein top that looked fairly pleasant on me. It was going at a discount of 60%; definitely a good buy. The only drawback was that it was yellow. Yellow is a color that doesn't go with my tan; it makes me look washed out and tired. But I couldn't possibly start my day without a single purchase now, could I?
I went on to Ngee Ann City, a gigantic shopping mall that houses many of my favourite shops. I had always liked Takashimaya, United Colours of Benetton, M-phorsis, G2000, Guess and Armani Exchange. I faithfully checked out their sale merchandise; and again I didn't find anything to buy. Resigned, I went to C K Tangs. Now that is a place where I have spent many hard-earned dollars in the past. They usually stocked a good collection of shoes. Every girl can always use an extra pair of shoes, right? I was once again bitterly disappointed. All the shoes on sale were the exact same ones they had put out during their last sale just 2 months ago. I left C K Tangs empty-handed.
My next stop was Metro Paragon. Metro, in recent years seems to be changing its position to a low-priced no-frills department store. I hadn't bought anything from Metro in years, and after looking at the stuff they carried, I think I will be keeping the status quo.
It was lunchtime when I left Metro. The lunch crowd had kicked in. It is really strange that office girls would gobble their food down at cheap foodcourts to have the time and money to shop for that half an hour everyday.
I took a slow walk to Centrepoint, where the popular department store, Robinson's is located. On the way there, I saw many shoppers carrying huge bags from Robinson's. There must be lots to buy there. I was suddenly excited again; there was hope for me yet.
Upon reaching Robinson's, I made a beeline for the lingerie department. Robinson's has the best collection of lingerie in town. As I entered the desired section of the store, I made a u-turn and walked straight out. There was barely space to stand, with all the office girls jostling for space at the sale bins. I browsed amongst the rest of the shops in Centrepoint, failing to find anything I had to have.
As the office crowd subsided, the stores remained equally packed. The auntie crowd had taken over. All the housewives, tai-tai's and grandmothers were out shopping with a vengeance. This is a crowd not to be messed with. They are all expert shoppers, and would stop at nothing for a good buy. Armed with killer umbrellas (that knock merchandise over and injures ankles) and screaming children, they are the people that play the role of monsters in every shop assistant's nightmare.
Giving up on Centrepoint, I crossed over to the MRT station to make my way to City Hall MRT station. The trains were terrifyingly crowded, nothing less than a phenomenon at 3pm in the afternoon.
At City Hall MRT station, I walked along the cool shopping arcade, City Link. It was like returning to civilization again. There were no crowds at City Link at all. I leisurely strolled from shop to shop. At a shop called 37 degrees, I spent a total of $107 on tops. None of them were on sale. It is the Great Singapore Sale after all, I told myself, trying to reason with my guilt (obviously without much success).
I was meeting a girlfriend at Top of the M for dinner. I decided to go there early and relax with a cup of coffee. From the view there, I could see people occupying every single square inch of space on the pavements. They looked like army ants from my bird's eye view. Well, all the organizers of this great sale must give themselves a pat on the back. I have never seen crowds like this in Singapore for a long time. (The last time must have been during Swing Singapore, and that was about 10 years ago).
Once my girlfriend arrived, half an hour late, she started gushing, "Did you see the sale at Hugo Boss? I must buy some of those shirts for my boyfriend. Let's go later, OK?" The Singaporean spirit lives on.
Scotts Shopping Centre
Hilton Shopping Arcade
Far East Plaza
Raffles City Shopping Centre
The Great Singapore Sale usually takes place between May and July. Good luck!
Published on 6/26/01