Where do you shop? The footpaths, the small retail stores, or at the gigantic shopping malls? Kathmandu has experienced a cultural transformation that has made people opt for malls as their primary shopping destination. See what the writer finds while exploring through the happening malls of Kathmandu.
Shopping is everyone’s guilty pleasure. Handing out your hard-earned dough in return for the apparel you so badly longed for gives you the ultimate feeling of completeness. And there is no better place to fill the void in your possession than shopping malls. They’ve got everything that you want for yourself. Just reach for your pocket and the genie in your wallet will get you whatever you crave for. From the beautiful dress you see on the mannequin to the all-new fragrance by the top-notch designer and from the cool new accessory for your gypsy look to the sports shoe for your high-school soccer match – malls have them all.
Until recently, your shopping destination inside the valley used to be the streets of Kathmandu, which had very limited merchandise on offer. But now, there are no such woes. Shopping malls have come to your rescue. The United World Trade Center, Civil Mall, City Center, Bishal Bazaar, Blue Bird Mall, Sherpa Mall, People’s Plaza, R B Complex – are all there to end your product hunt and quench your fetish for the latest and the trendiest addition to your closet or your dwelling.
Let us begin with the oldest mall in Kathmandu – Bishal Bazaar. Bishal Bazaar introduced the whole mall hype to us street-shoppers. Back in its time, it was the most happening place in the whole of Nepal for shopping. 350 stores are at your service which have everything – shoes, threads, shades, jewels, gadgets, bags, you name it! But now the charm of good old Bishal Bazaar has waned. New and sophisticated malls have evolved in this metro which attracts Kathmanduites like a magnet.
There is no special order in this list of shopping malls,.but second on the list is the United World Trade Center. Located at Tripureshwor, the United World Trade Center can be summed up in just one word, ‘massive’. 6 storeys, 175 shops, ample parking space, big brands, and thousands of customers daily is what makes this mall different from its competitors. Reputed brands like Life, Mona Lisa, Attsh, Raymond, Shrestha Tailoring, Suvari, Fabulous, John Players, and Temptations et al. can be found in the mall which deal in world-class products. Two restaurants offer the best cuisines from all around the globe. ‘I have been to other shopping malls in Bangkok, Moscow, and Bangladesh and I see that our malls here are catching up with them at a very fast pace,’ said Prem Prasad Dotel who was found exploring the stores at the UWTC.
New Road’s ‘People’s Plaza’ is no different. Catering mainly to teenagers, People’s Plaza has everything that a shopper seeks – restaurants, bars, gaming consoles, kids’ playing house, ATMs, and of course there are shops. And if you are brand conscious, then Besman, Fit Rite, Woodland, Converse and about a dozen more similar brands are there to pamper you. 30 odd personnels are employed to keep the mall up and running and their work is surely impressive.
Another mall that makes its presence felt in the heart of New Road is R B Complex. ‘With parking space for about 400 bikes and 30 cars,’ Kedar Neupane, the Administration Officer, says, ‘R B Complex has a total of 340 shops packed with products of every fashion, brand, and price range.’ Eight people work day-in-and-day-out to ensure an efficient operation of the mall. Though the lack of a food court can be felt, small tea shops compensate for their absence to some extent.
The most happening mall in the most happening spot of Kathmandu, Durbar Marg, is the Sherpa Mall. Thronged mostly by the people of the middle-upper strata of the society, Sherpa Mall is a striking medley of branded clothing stores, gadget stores, home decor and a whole lot of inviting places to eat. The mall is turning into a perfect hang-out for young adults where one can shop, hang around with friends, or just go for a meal. Sajwani Rana, a regular at this shopping center, says, ‘It is fun to shop here at the Sherpa Mall. I also come here for Baskin & Robins.’
Situated at Tripureshwar/Thapathali, the Bluebird Mall is a center for clothing and dining with fine restaurants and grand stores that are worth checking out. Moods Lounge Bar and Royal Thai Restaurant serve the visitors with delicious fare. Word is around that KFC, Pizza Hut, and Sanjeev Kapoor’s Yellow Chilly will soon be opening their eateries here as well. Bluebird is a place that is crowded with customers who come here not just to wander around but mean business. Shiva Basnet, from the management team, said, ‘When we opened in 1985, the customers were 95% foreigners while 5% were Nepali locals. Now it’s the reverse.’
City Center, the splendid structure at Kamal Pokhari, redefined shopping to the residents of the capital. It introduced contemporary shopping culture with the finest brands from across the globe like Levi’s, Signature, Provogue, Canon, Puma Sports, Lilliput, Samsung, Peter England, Periwinkle, Dell, Converse, Lee Cooper, and Regency Watch. Not only core shopping, entertainment is another aspect that draws the public towards City Center. Bungee jump, and wall climbing for children, bull riding, gaming zone with Wii games, 8D theatre, Big Cinemas – City Center has got it all. The kiosk in the fourth floor is also a center of attraction. It is believed that the window shopper or the visual merchandiser turns into a real customer after his/her few visits to City Center.
The latest addition to all the malls in Kathmandu is the Civil Mall. To everyone’s delight, Civil Mall commenced its operation with a promise to make the dreams of every shopper come true. There are stores here that one never imagined to see in a Nepali shopping center: Panasonic, Levi’s Signature, Jeans West, Monte Carlo, Nokia, Lotto, HP, and Boneca Bonita to name a few. QFX Central, Central Bal Sansar, and Central Food Court are among its major attractions. Open from 10 am to 8 pm, Civil Mall is, till date, the largest shopping mall in the country which is sure to lure customers with its grandeur.
All these trendy malls have brought joy to the Nepali public hungry for branded goods and fancy shopping stores. The establishment of one shopping precinct after another in different parts of the capital has changed the city landscape. Some people may call this mushrooming of malls a “follow the leader” trend, but this is what every city needs. This is what makes a city exquisite. This is the need of the moment. So let’s load our pockets with cash and walk out of the malls with a load of shopping bags. Let’s go to the mall, today!