After the latest hardback, art and craft supplies or just need paper for the printer…Or perhaps you want to finally get your wedding photos bound in a bespoke album?
Ngee Ann City (#03-09/10/15)
391A Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6737 5021
Blows Borders (Wheelock Place) out of the water, Kinokuniya is the largest bookshop in Southeast Asia. A Japanese book-megastore – but please don’t think for a second that it just stocks Japanese books – this place has everything. They also have smaller outlets in Liang Court (#03-50; T(+65) 6337 1300) and Bugis Junction (200 Victoria Street; T(+65) 6339 1790). If it isn’t in Borders (which invariably and ever-increasingly, it isn’t) they probably have 2 of them here. BTW: If you feel daunted by the sheer scale of this place, go to one of their search machines and punch in the name of the title / author you are looking for. If it’s stocked, it will pinpoint the location of your book and print out a map to help you find it.
Opening Times: 11am-9pm daily
36 Arab street
T: (+65) 6298 3391
An absolute treasure trove. Buy whole spools of beautiful spotty grosgrain ribbon for what it would cost for a meter back at home! Gingham, velvet, satin and metallic…every ribbon you could possibly desire. Come at christmas for a truly over the top pile of gaudy trimmings. Also a great place for cheap tissue paper, wrapping paper and little boxes and bags – particularly good for little girls’ birthday parties!
Opening times: Mon-Sat 11am til 5
9 Yong Siak Street
T: (+65) 6222 9195
Proof that Tiong Bahru really is on the up…this, the mother of all boutique book shops, has finally relocated here. Our idea of divine styling, from the old cameras and typewriters that used to be dotted around when these guys lived in Club Street, to the bare bulbs in the ceiling sporadically placed with design in mind. Some things appear to be accidentally artful but we have a sneaky suspicion that nothing here is left to chance. The selection of books is eclectic but usually with a design, art or simply beautiful element to it. It feels as though it is an affluent owners private library; duplicated a few times with large price stickers on the back of each volume. This is particularly galling when the price in GBP or USD is still visible. As well as being a mecca for out of print books, they also sell some very funky stationery. Cards, notes, books, maps and prints…all done by hand using vintage stamps and typewriters. Do check out their rather random collection of vintage knick-knacks dotted about the place. This place is just a little too cool. Just a little too expensive. But just fabulous. BTW: If you can’t be bothered to get down to Tiong Bahru, you can check out their little concession in Beauty Emporium at House in Dempsey before you get a massage, or your brows tamed at Browhaus, opposite their bookish nook.
Opening Times: 11am-6pm Mon, 11am-9pm Tue-Fri, 10am-9pm Sat & 10am-6pm Sun
WOODS IN THE BOOKS
58 Club Street
T: (+65) 6222 9980
A couple of doors down from Books Actually is a bookshop devoted to illustrated books. Not solely for children, this little shophouse boutique is always filled with adults rediscovering childhood favourites and poring over beautiful and unusual hardbacks they wish they had the excuse of a child to buy for. While away a happy time checking out illustrated stories from all over the world, the staff are knowledgeable and have a genuine passion for the items they stock so pillage them for information and good advice on what to get for what aged god-child etc.
Opening Times: 11am-9pm Mon-Sat; 12pm-6pm Sun
290 Orchard Road #04-46/47/48
Paragon, Singapore 238859
Often overlooked or forgotten about but this is a great place to pick up moderately priced home necessities and even occasionally clothing. Fantastic for small items of furniture (set of drawers for kids crafts, boxes to tidy toys away) and also for everyday boring items…towels, flannels, soap dispensers etc. Often quite a good source of presents too – they have quite quirky gift options and are great for mid priced, good quality, bathroom stuff. Just for a change, the assistants seem to be vaguely helpful too!
Opening Times: 10am-9.30pm daily
Funan Centre (#02-23/29)
109 North Bridge Road
T: (+65) 6332 3870
Absolutely nothing fancy but a good, local stationary store that sells all those boring but brilliant basics that you never know where to find when you arrive here – or even, frankly, when you live here. One stop shop for printer paper, cartridges, white boards, envelopes and pens etc etc, as well as gear (shredders). Unexpected stockist of weird and wacky stocking fillers (‘humping dog’ USB key is a hands down winner) as well as classier items including rather beautiful leather apple shaped mousemats.
Opening Times: 11am-8pm daily
Level 5, Plaza Singapura
68 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 733 9808
Singapore’s answer to the sadly demised Woolworths, this is actually a little closer to Peter Jones without the sales assistants and vested interest. Recently revamped, the place is heaving with buttons and bows, curtains for windows and showers and screeds of material for all sorts of craft projects or home decoration. You will have to hunt unassisted but it is often worth the trouble. Great for picking up afternoon activities for small children (paint a wooden letter, decorate a treasure box, design your own t-shirt etc) but unfortunately consistency of stock is bad. They have a limited range of Martha Stewart stuff if you are a scrapbooking queen, but also good for home essentials such as soap dispensers, Tupperware and cheap mugs. If you spot something you like though, buy it. It probably won’t be there next week.
Opening Times: 10am-10pm daily
Bras Basah Complex (L2-L5)
Block 231 Bain Street
T: (+65) 6338 2339
Their biggest store and level 5 is dedicated solely to stationary. You want Chinese calligraphy brushes?…Come here. You want Chinese calligraphy brushes pre-loaded with ink (a ‘brush pen’ no less)?…Come here. Pens of all description, pockets, files, Thousands of different types of card holders, filing draws, and general kit and caboodle…it’ s all here. Once you’ve done your stationary shop up – pop downstairs to L4 and browse their book selection (great Chinese posters and learn Chinese kids’ books).
Opening Times: 10am-7pm Mon-Thu; 10am-9pm Fri-Sun
FUJIFILM / SOO KEE COLOUR
Far East Shopping Centre (#01-18)
545 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6734 4266
For good passport photos, come here. These guys will not distort your face horribly with their cheap camera (they use a Nikon D40) and Nana will also touch it up for you while you wait, removing any shine, shadows and bags, for free. Printed and in your paws in about 5 minute flat. $16.80 for 8 pictures (minimum order) or $21.80 for a CD. BTW: If you ask the security guards nicely, you can double park right outside the shop.
Opening Times; 9am-9pm daily
Ask for: Nana
2 Orchard Turn
T: (+65) 6509 3107
An Australian company with a Swedish owner who employs Scandinavian designers. A great stationary stop with clean lines, lots of white coupled with splashes of colour. The sell all the (stylish) usual suspects as well as less usual things: their weekly meal planner pads are a must-have for maximum maid efficiency ($12.90 for 60 sheets represents surprisingly good value – 20 cents a week – just don’t come here thinking everything will be this cheap). BTW: Make sure you don’t miss the double entrance to the store and the other half of the shop.
Opening Times: 10am-10pm daily
Ngee Ann City (#04-20)
391 Orchard Road
Tel: (65) 6733 8482
10,000 sq ft of art supplies. Need we say more? Well..we could just add that this is obviously THE arts and crafts shop in Singapore and stocks pretty much everything imaginable, from fake grass to great quality paints, canvas, easels and brushes. If you are bulk buying, it’s worth joining their membership club which entitles you to 10% off (but if you spend over $100, you qualify for a year’s free membership). Very helpful staff make this a great place to shop, whether it’s for you, for the house or for the children. There is also a slightly smaller branch in the Bras Basah Complex as well as a couple of other dotted around town – check website.
Opening Times: 10.30am – 9pm daily
2 Peng Nguan Street
T: (+65) 6579 0700
The Society for the Physically Disabled works in partnership with people with physical disabilities to develop their potential to the fullest so that they can be self-reliant and independent. They do this by empowering them with a variety of skills (including book binding and restoration as well as more contemporary ones such as web design). Come here to buy beautifully bound notebooks in leather or fabric (you can even bring your own material and have something bespoke made) that have been flawlessly pieced together by the skilled disabled work force that you can see hard at work in the next door room. Made with great care and attention to detail, they also sell wonderful, made to order, leather bound photo albums, which can be hot-stamped with initials, a date or any words of your choice. If you are going down the album route, call ahead and ask to see Ruby who runs the show, as the choices in leather alone, never mind fonts, can be slightly confusing as they are yet to implement a reassuring tick-box order form. Exceptionally well finished, we are firm supporters and you should be too! Prices are very reasonable considering the level of craftsmanship (photo albums, for instance, range from approx $40-$100, dependant on size, finish and amount of embossing required).
Opening Times: 9am-5pm Mon-Fri. Closed weekends
Ask for: Ruby Cheok or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ESME PARISH SILVER
Far East Shopping Centre (#03-36)
545 Orchard Road
T: (+65) 6735 1180
Listed here very much under the ‘Stuff’ category…this company is a great source of sterling silver gifts that are great for Christenings and other times when giving a proper, weighty present is the only thing to do (they have great cufflinks that are solid silver and under $50 for instance). They have a table at most of the expat fairs but it’s not always brilliantly laid out and very easy to walk straight past. Their shop has far more serious stock than the trinkets on offer at the fairs…but we love it for their good value trinkets alone (knowing nothing about antique oriental silver).
Opening Times: 10am-4pm Mon-Fri; Weekends by appointment only
ODDS ‘N’ COLLECTABLES
T: (+65) 6323 0043
This falls very much under the ‘stuff’ category of this listing. This is a super fun street to wander down (make sure you are this end of it – the other end is not so good and more officey) and this shop is the only one of it’s kind. A glimpse of Singapore in days gone by. Stuffed high (literally you can’t actually get to the things at the back of the shop) with relics of the old Singapore, duck your head as you pass antique bird cages and stuffed crocs; this is SG’s version of London’s Portabello market – all crammed in to one shop. Everything for sale has been sourced from here – either knick knacks from old houses or things snapped up by the knowledgeable owner at auctions. Super fun browsing and those with a good eye will be in heaven, although it’s not as cheap as you think it’s going to be – be warned! A good street to take in with visitors. Don’t forget to call in at Truffs (see EAT ME, DRINK ME, Sweet Stuff) as well as the Chinese temple – all on the same stretch.
Opening Times: 1pm-6pm daily