These days, shopping malls refresh, revamp and renovate faster than you can say “back in my day”. Shops come and go, replaced by the latest trends and crazes – before long, we can barely remember our OG stomping grounds.
For 90s kids, these 10 shops from our school days will be sure to jog your memory of those brick-and-mortar hangout spots and shopping haunts.
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Before Kanken and Herschel, we had ZiNC – the one-stop shop for the trendiest totes. After we outgrew our kiddy SPI bags and decided to be edgier, ZiNC’s classic black and white sling bags and backpacks were the go-to option. Some even got the eye-catching but very extra bunny rucksack, or got matching bags in different colours to fit in with their squad.
When it closed down: December 2016
Whether you were a fan of K-pop, J-pop or Mandopop, Comics Connection was where you could spend hours combing through laminated pictures of celebrities to find your favourite idol to keep in your wallet. They also stocked a huge range of merch like Jay Chou-themed poker cards, Big Bang stationery and Super Junior collectibles that devotees would shell out for.
As its name suggests, they’re also well-stocked with comic books for popular series like One Piece and Bleach – making it a de facto retreat for manga geeks to surreptitiously “browse” though its aisles.
When it closed down: April 2015
Personalised gifts are back in trend now, but 90s kids will remember that Gift A Name was the OG of custom-made knick-knacks. They were known for their iconic charms that let you string beads with letters, symbols, and designs into a keychain to dangle on your school bag or loop onto your old-school Nokia phone.
Of course, lining its walls were soft toys of all sizes from mini to ginormous, but these were mostly way out of our budgets then.
When it closed down: Unknown, last mentioned in 2014
You probably had no idea what to get for your crush back then when it came to Valentine’s Day as a youngin – fresh flowers were a little out of budget, so plushie flowers from More Than Words came in handy. Items sold here were affordable enough for our $2/day allowance, making it an absolute gift sanctuary for every occasion.
Image credit: Foursquare
When it closed down: April 2011
Image credit: Shops in SG
Enter Mini Toons, and you’d be sucked into a black hole of cutesy paraphernalia and random knick-knacks. Many times, you’d leave the store with an unnecessary item that you’d have no use for – like a keychain to decorate your pencil cases with, a spring-boxing glove pen, or some coloured shoelaces to make a tween fashion statement.
Image credit: Fatlippedx
You’d also probably still have some soft toys from there that you received for your birthday, with iconic designs like the turtle or Craftholic bunnies. But the candy mix is undoubtedly where our fondest memories lie. We all had sweet tooths then, so their wide selection of gummies, sour strips and marshmallows were simply irresistible.
When it closed down: 2020 (last physical store, since moved online)
Unlike the other quiet store closures, 77th Street’s was quite the headline-grabber. That wasn’t just because it marked the demise of a beloved local brand; it also portended the end of the 90s emo kid era, with its flashy chain necklaces, spiked earstuds, neon caps and grunge aesthetic.
When it closed down: September 2016
Before H&M and Uniqlo hit our shores, This Fashion was the retail clothing outlet that was in every neighbourhood. This ubiquitous store was both accessible and affordable – no wonder school kids would spend hours browsing its racks and camping in the changing rooms to try on bold new outfits.
Rummage through your old photo albums and you might even find cringey mirror selfies you took with your girlfriends.
When it closed down: September 2010
Before the age of social media, we commemorated our treasured friendships by taking neoprints at the nearest arcade. After school, we’d even bring our “home clothes” to change into and hit the neoprint booths, striking rehearsed poses within the seconds-long countdown.
Like clockwork, we’d then head to the back of the booth to choose the best shots and decorate them with the pens and stickers – much like what we do on our IG stories now. We still have classic passport photo booths around, but neoprint booths are pretty rare in Singapore now.
When it closed down: Unknown
Every Singaporean who frequented town 10 years back would know that Wheelock Place was famed for the sprawling bookstore on its ground floor: Borders. It was very much like a library; with its winding shelves offering quiet nooks hidden from view of the shop attendants, letting you spend the day finishing an entire book without spending a dime.
The announcement of their closure saddened many bookworms, and now we’re just hoping that the few physical bookstores we have left won’t leave one by one.
When it closed down: 2011
Girls who had long hair during their schooling days would remember the strict rules we had to follow – some schools didn’t allow fringes and some even required those with long hair to French braid them. And if your CCA was dance or any uniform group, there’d be even more requirements like having to bun up your hair.
As kids dealing with our ever-dwindling supply of bobby pins and hair ties, Aries and Diva provided a wallet-friendly restock. Apart from hair accessories for school, these shops also sold cute necklaces and earrings. In fact, Diva has now been rebranded as Lovisa, which is still a reliable go-to for affordable accessories.
When it closed down: August 2020 (Aries’ last store at Yishun), 2014 (Diva)
The shops may be gone for good, but the time we’ve spent there with our friends in our uniforms will always be etched in our memories.
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