April 25, 2024

Worldbuilding future retail spaces in historic shophouses

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Guests at the Dior pop-up, held at the 4 Jiak Chuan shophouse.

These days, shophouses aren’t just for F&B establishments. The Afternaut is working with Meir Collective, a real estate investment and management company, who own multiple shophouses, and we’ve noticed a rising trend of high street and luxury brands opening up in shophouses in Singapore. The Coach Play Singapore Shophouse and House of Birkenstock opened to much excitement as they sprinkled a little magic onto our heritage shophouse rows.

At 4 Jiak Chuan Road, MEIR Collective was proud to welcome three very distinct brands into its threshold - DIOR, Shiseido, and Love Bonito, for pop-up launches. This sparked some excitement on the possibilities of shophouse spaces as mediums for brands to engage with customers in a unique way, outside of the usual shopping mall space.

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The interest in shophouses is still going strong and we think it will continue to do so, for as long as shophouses remain. Beyond just speaking about shophouses in terms of its monetary value, we decided to pen our thoughts here to discuss the deeper value of shophouses that we feel is the anchor for its consistent demand.

The Beauty of "Chancing Upon"

Shophouses are a platform for brands to build their own world outside of the world of the shopping mall and its rules. Instead of having to draw attention in a cluttered commercial space, the shophouse offers a quieter, charming experience. Customers can stumble upon brands situated in a historic, quaint enclave. The pleasant surprise of “chancing upon” a brand you did not expect to see in a heritage shophouse elevates the retail experience, arouses curiosity and helps to place brands in a different light.

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The entrance of Love, Bonito's pop up at 4 Jiak Chuan.

Being in a shophouse presents endless possibilities - brands can build any kind of world they want inside the shophouse, from an exclusive launch of a luxury product line to the celebration of a new marketing campaign. Here are three different campaigns that left their mark at MEIR’s Jiak Chuan shophouse:

The World of Dior

The World of Shiseido

The World of Love, Bonito

Leveraging our heritage to build meaningful spaces

Shopping malls may present homogeneous experiences - most of the time, the same few anchor tenants can be found in the malls around our tiny island. But shophouses are a unique Southeast Asian story of our shared history and culture. Anyone can build a shiny new shopping mall with sky gardens, water features and technological marvels, but to create a whole new world in a heritage shophouse that has been repurposed meaningfully is a satisfying accomplishment.

Heritage shophouses are the medium and platform to connect brands, investors, landlords and the community. More than just relics that we look upon through lenses of nostalgia, Afternaut and MEIR are repurposing pieces of Singapore's history to make them relevant, adaptable, and meaningful for present and future generations. The Afternaut too is building our own world in our new shophouse office at 71 Kampong Bahru, and we can’t wait to show it to you once it’s ready.

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The Afternaut Group Pte Ltd. 2024


The Afternaut Group Pte Ltd. 2024