Culture

13 Shops 90s Kids Wasted Their Pocket Money At After School That Have Since Quietly Closed Down

Shops loved by 90s kids in Singapore


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.


1. ZiNC


One-stop shop for the trendiest bags


Image credit: Nestia

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.

The iconic bunny bag, sling bag, and rucksacks that the “cool kids” carried – you can still find some of them in the crevices of Carousell.
Image credit: @r2dael, @re.love & @thehomestuff via Carousell

When it closed down: December 2016


2. Comics Connection


Haven for manga addicts & K-Pop fans



Image credit: ひゆひゆ hyu via Foursquare

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


3. Gift a Name


Soft toys & custom gifts



Image credit:
Norl A. via Yelp

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


4. More than Words


Knick-knacks like mobile charms & stationery



Image credit: Street Directory

You probably had no idea what to get for your crush back then when it came to Valentine’s Day gifts 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.


The iconic plushie bouquets.

Image credit: Jc God Ng via Foursquare

When it closed down: April 2011


5. Mini Toons


Trendy toys & sweets station



Die-hards might even have signed up for their membership to cop 20% off items during sale season

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 activated boxing glove pen, or some coloured shoelaces to make a tween fashion statement.


Chargeable by weight, we’d carefully select our favourite ones to not go over 100G and to stay within our budget.

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: Last physical store closed in 2020, has since moved online


6. 77th Street


“Emo kid” accessories & streetwear



I
mage credit: 77th Street via Facebook

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


7. THIS FASHION


Affordable ladies’ fashion



Image
credit: Street directory

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, it’s 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


8. Neoprint shops


For “selfies” before IG filters



Image credit: Japantownnow
via Pinterest

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 the OG neoprint booths are pretty rare in Singapore now.

In more recent times, you can hit up the various self-photo studios in Singapore should you still wish to immortalise group outings and first dates with a cutesy strip of photos.


9. Borders @ Wheelock


Go-to hangout spot for bookworms in town



Image credit:
Josephine Mattia via Pinterest

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 closure of their flagship store saddened many bookworms, and with Westgate’s outlet lasting mere months before closing down after an attempted revival in 2013, it seems like the bookstore is gone for good.

When it closed down: 2011


10. Aries & Diva


Affordable hair accessories


Image credit: ShopsinSG, Fashion and Jewellery Industry

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: Aries’ last store closed in August 2020, Diva’s last store closed in 2014


11. HMV @ The Heeren


Massive 3-storey CD shop


Image credit: Noel Ariola Rosales via Facebook

Before music streaming services took over, you had to physically peruse the shelves of CD shops to get your daily dose of tunes. As such, there was no better place than HMV to stock up on the hottest hits in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s.

Although they had 3 outlets peppered around the CBD, it’s the flagship at The Heeren that teens would congregate at. You’d find hordes of them swarming the store on weekends to sample various CDs at their music listening stations, before pooling together their meagre savings to purchase one.

HMV didn’t just sell CDs; before the rise of photocards, fans would show their love for their favourite artist by buying official posters and t-shirts from the music store.

The store moved out of The Heeren in 2009 and into a smaller space at 313@somerset, which was a telltale sign that their days were numbered. Soon enough, HMV’s outlets shuttered one by one and come 2016, the last HMV at Marina Square shut down and we’ve not seen its pooch-inspired logo ever since.

When it closed down: 2016


12. New Urban Male


Questionably-designed menswear



Image credit: Benjamin O. via Foursquare

While the ladies browsed the racks at THIS FASHION, the guys would swing by New Urban Male to up their fashion game. The brand was known for their garish tank tops which came attached with a strap that nobody could figure out the purpose for.


The wacky sling-singlet abomination in action.
Image credit: Pageantainment

They were also pretty infamous for tops which bore overt sexual innuendos, which would definitely make for a bold fashion statement in today’s day and age. Word was, the male staff stationed at their outlets were a sight for sore eyes, which meant that the stores also often attracted the wandering eyes of female shoppers.

When it closed down: 2012


13. Frolick


Before Yole & llaollao were a thing in Singapore



Image credit: Asylum

Another business which was said to be hiring good-looking staff to drive sales is Frolick, which had the tendency to recruit young, conventionally attractive girls to run their stores.

Image credit: Choo Yut Shing via Flickr

Frolick basically introduced the concept of frozen yoghurt with toppings like cereal and cookie crumbs to Singapore before international chains like Yole and llaollao came on the scene. From 2008, they served up cups of fat-free froyo topped with fresh fruits, but as the froyo craze simmered down, so did the demand for their desserts.

However, the pretty faces and icy cold goodies were not enough to keep the lights on, as Frolick called it quits sometime in early 2012.

When it closed down: 2012


R.I.P to the shops we used to hang out at

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.

Check out our articles on 90s trends:


Cover image adapted from: Japantownnow via Pinterest, ひゆひゆ hyu via Foursquare, Noel Ariola Rosales via Facebook, Choo Yut Shing via Flickr
Originally published on 20th Jan 2021. Last updated by Khoo Yong Hao on 12th April 2024.

 

Shi Nan Liang

Recent Posts

Guide To The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum – Still Open At ORTO Yishun In 2024

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum of Singapore has an extensive collection of live reptiles,…

April 22, 2024

Getting From Singapore To Desaru – We Compare The Costs Of 6 Modes Of Transport

Is taking the new ferry the most budget-savvy option? We compare the costs of the…

April 21, 2024

9 Travel Scams In Japan & How You Can Avoid Them

Sometimes stranger danger is still the best policy to live by.

April 21, 2024

11 Tingkat Delivery Services In Singapore For Those Who Are Too Busy Or Tired To Cook

Eating out can get expensive and unhealthy. But there are many tingkat delivery options for…

April 20, 2024

Bangkok’s Camera Thrift Store Has Canon & Nikon From Japan, Don’t Miss It On Your Next Trip

A camera under $10? We won't gatekeep this no more!

April 20, 2024