You’ve probably already heard that Queensway Shopping Centre’s fate is hanging on thin thread – the 45-year-old mall was recently put up for an en bloc sale*, and many people are up in arms. It is, after all, one of Singapore’s oldest shopping complexes and part of the Queenstown Heritage Trail (by the National Heritage Board).
Queensway Shopping Centre is a strata-titled mall, which means that each unit belongs to its store owner. When news of the en bloc broke, there was a petition set up amongst the shop owners to defend the iconic mall. As of 1 May 2019, around 20% of them have signed against the en bloc.
Most reports paint this with optimism, but I’m skeptical – I believe that QSC’s days are numbered. So what did I do? I revisited it, of course.
Is it still the bustling Queensway I remember from my younger years? Or has it become a ghost town occupied only by struggling business owners?
What’s there at Queensway Shopping Centre?
Although like most malls its age it sports dirty grey walls and is generally very poorly lit… Queensway Shopping Centre feels nothing like the sleazy City Plaza at Geylang. Personally, I enjoyed it then, and I enjoy it now.
In fact, it exudes a certain kind of old-world charm that’s mostly been phased out by cookie-cutter Capitaland malls. It’s one of the few local haunts that still have $0.50 kiddy rides and that creepy “fortune teller” machine that tells you your fate for a dollar.
Queensway Shopping Centre is known for a couple of things: 1) cheap branded sneakers, 2) printing shops and 3) Katong laksa.
Let’s talk about sneakers and sports shops first, because that’s the main draw of the shopping complex.
1. Cheap sneakers & sportswear at Queensway Shopping Centre
When losing QSC become an actual possibility, the first thing everyone asked was…
QSC is known for carrying authentic branded sportswear and sneakers at a discount. Whether it’s for past-season Nike boots or almost-white Stan Smiths that may pass your discipline master’s “test”, everyone I know has a QSC sneaker-shopping story to tell.
This Reddit user estimates 15% off retail price for newest drops and more for past-season models, but take that with a pinch of salt. My personal experience is that how much you save really depends on your bargaining power – at least for the stores on the first and second floors of the complex.
The haggling culture is real – here’s a screenshot I took from a Facebook post that asked the community what they’ll miss most about QSC:
If you’re the kind who’s easily intimidated by pushy storeowners, head upstairs to Intersports on the top floor. When I went, there were “50% off” sale signs plastered all over the walls.
Sounds attractive, but we all know bluff one lah – the tagged prices for most shoes were around $60 to $80, which is cheap for a pair of running shoes, but maybe not 50% off. The stuff that are under $60 are usually in odd sizes and/or really, really old shoes – the kind that have a layer of dust on it, and look like the soles will split mid-run.
I did find some good buys though. There were Adidas sports bras that were going for just $14.70 (usual price $49.90).
2. Printing shops at Queensway Shopping Centre
The next thing people visit Queensway Shopping Centre for is the printing shops. There are printing shops for photocopying paper stuff like school notes and textbooks, and printing shops for making class and club T-shirts, tracksuits and the likes.
I never went to school near Queensway, but from the online forums, it seems like the Queensway printing shops have won the hearts of many Singaporeans.
Perhaps it’s because the kind uncles and aunties sometimes helped poor students flout the law…
There are many print shops on the top few floors of QSC, and in general, most agree that their prices are competitive even when compared to other “print shop malls” like Sunshine Plaza. They also have the capacity to do high volume orders.
In addition to paper printing shops, they also have T-shirt printing, as well as trophy and medal makers. You know, all the stuff your school house captains had to prepare for sports day.
3. Katong Laksa at Queensway Shopping Centre
Last but definitely not least, people go to QSC for the Katong Laksa. I’m guilty of this too – I know it’s not the original Katong Laksa from, you know, Katong… But for west-siders, it’s one of the best we’ve got.
There are two Katong Laksa stalls…
Janggut Laksa (#01-59)
and 328 Katong Laksa (#01-60).
Queensway Katong Laksa prices
|Katong Laksa||Janggut Laksa||328 Katong Laksa|
Janggut calls itself “the original Katong Laksa since 1950s”, and judging from their humble storefront, I’m quite convinced. 328 Katong Laksa is chain with many outlets across Singapore, and has a much bigger and fancier shop at Queensway.
328 Katong Laksa is also $0.50 more expensive than Janggut.
Is Queensway Shopping Centre still worth visiting?
I would say yes (because I just like the mall), but after joining the conversation online, I’ve found that the general sentiment is that QSC is no longer as cheap as it used to be.
Fewer people are going there for the sportswear deals, with most of them turning to competitively priced factory outlets and online stores.
Some also blame Queensway Shopping Centre’s downfall on budget sports supply store, Decathlon.
Also, since QSC started attracting sneaker shoppers, many sportswear brands have set up retail stores within the mall. Think Limited Edition Vault, Under Armour, Converse and more.
Although you will find discounted stuff on sale, these shops are not outlet stores and the promotions are likely to be the same as the other retail outlets islandwide. In other words: you don’t need to go out of your way to QSC lah.
So although many Singaporeans grew up with Queensway Shopping Centre and have fond memories to share, few of us continue to patronise the shops there because they’re simply not as cheap anymore.
If you ask me, I would definitely recommend one last jalan-jalan at the complex, just as a poignant reminder of all the good times you had there. Go browse the sports shops, and have a comforting bowl of laksa and say goodbye.
But if your mission is solely (haha, get it?) to shop for cheap shoes, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.
What do you think? Can you still find cheap stuff at Queensway Shopping Centre? Tell us in the comments below.
* As reported on CNA: Some shop owners resistant as Queensway Shopping Centre gears up for collective sale
Community feedback taken from relevant threads on Facebook, Reddit and HardwareZone.
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