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Thambi Magazine Store – Iconic Newsstand That Was A Mainstay In Holland Village For 80 Years

Thambi Magazine Store, formerly at Holland Village

If you want to catch up on the news, you’re most likely to open up your phone and scroll through Instagram. The same goes for finding the newest things to do in Singapore – The Smart Local would be where you’d head to first, right? But before everything went digital, millennials and up would remember having to pick up a print copy of a magazine to discover the latest happenings.

For those living in Holland Village, your go-to would’ve been Thambi Magazine Store. At the peak of its popularity, the iconic newsstand along Lorong Liput had more than 7,000 magazine titles displayed. Here’s what you could get before it shuttered in May 2024:

Who owned Thambi Magazine Store?

thambi magazine store - owner sam
Image credit: @photosinslippersshorts via Instagram

Thambi Magazine Store started out as a newspaper distributor by P. Govindasamy in the 1940s. This was then passed down to his son and then his grandson and current owner, Periathambi Senthil Murugan, also known as Sam. The family-owned business stood the test of time for over 80 years in Holland Village until Sam decided to close the store in 2024.

Iconic store you could browse magazines at

The name itself is a big giveaway to the store’s specialty. Magazines are Thambi’s game but it wasn’t just copies of Time, Newsweek, and The Economist you’d find here.

thambi magazine store - holland village
Image credit: @vaguesketches via Instagram

In the heydays of print, residents of Holland Village would drop by to buy local dailies like The Straits Times and Financial Times. Teens from nearby schools would also visit the open-air shop to grab the latest issues of 8 Days, Teenage, and Cleo.

But they had way more than just local titles; the shelves were once stocked with over 7,000 glossies. This was where you would’ve been able to find gossip rags like The Sun and Us Weekly, and international versions of Vogue and Good Housekeeping.

There were also ones like Kinfolk, Cereal, and The New Yorker that were popular not just for their lifestyle content but for their minimalist covers. It wasn’t uncommon to find copies of these magazines on coffee tables in Japandi-themed homes.

thambi magazine store - display stands
Image adapted from: @hobbyhearts via Instagram

Then there were the niche titles that were only bought by a select few. It didn’t matter what you were interested in, there was likely a monthly or two sold at Thambi Magazine Store that suited you.

For car enthusiasts, there was Torque, Top Gear, and Wheels Asia. Travellers who wanted to go off the beaten track could pick up Lonely Planet Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure. You could even pick up titles related to photography, cycling, fishing, watches, music, and even science fiction.

Hidden money changer & takeaway coffee kiosk at Thambi

OG visitors to Holland Village will remember that there used to be 2 money changers at Holland Road Shopping Centre, one of which was located within Thambi Magazine Store itself. But it closed down during the Covid-19 pandemic since fewer people were travelling out of the country.

thambi magazine store - caffeine xpress
Image credit: @c.aitlin via Instagram

Taking over in 2022 was Caffeine Xpress, a small takeaway kiosk that served gourmet coffees like matcha lattes and their take on the viral dalgona coffee. For a while, you could even get pastries from the display case out front.

Caffeine Xpress exited their tiny corner in Thambi Magazine Store way before news of the newsstand’s closure broke. But they didn’t venture too far from the neighbourhood; they’ve set up shop at the recently-opened One Holland Village.

End of an era for Thambi Magazine Store

Thambi Magazine Store had been informed by Holland Road Shopping Centre to remove the displays of magazines outside on the sidewalk. The landlord intended for Thambi to operate out of their brick and mortar space only.

thambi magazine store - penultimate day of operations
Penultimate day of operations.
Image credit: @kgkodandera via Instagram

The halved displays would’ve meant that Thambi would not have enough space to display their thousands of magazine titles for readers to leaf through. Sam then made a decision to close down Thambi Magazine Store and announced it on 2nd May 2024.

On 5th May 2024, supporters came by to buy out the last of their stock, then the shutters went down for the last time, marking the end of an era of readily available print at Holland Village.

Where is Thambi Magazine Store moving to?

Following news of Thambi’s closure, Sam received offers to reopen in Orchard Road or even at Jewel Changi. But Sam would prefer to stay in Holland Village, as this is where the business started out 80 years ago.

thambi magazine store - chan chun sing
Image adapted from: Chan Chun Sing via Facebook

Minister of Education and MP for Tanjong Pagar GRC, Mr Chan Chun Sing, met with Sam to walk around Holland Village in search of alternative spaces to reopen Thambi Magazine Store. However, nothing concrete has been developed yet. Those who prefer to thumb physical pages than swipe on a tablet or e-reader will just have to wait for news of Thambi’s return in the future.

Remembering Thambi Magazine Store

The rise of digital media has made it difficult for print media to stay afloat. I would know, I was retrenched twice in 5 years from print publishing. But the supporters that have asked for Sam to keep Thambi Magazine Store open show that there’s still a demand for glossy pages. Here’s hoping Sam and his family will find a new place in Holland Village to keep the iconic newsstand – and print media – alive.

Other nostalgic pieces:

Cover image adapted from: @vaguesketches via Instagram,