Where do you go when you get bored of conventional shopping centres in the city? Head to Mustafa Centre to discover all it has to offer.
Singapore is full of things to do, from top attractions to state-of-the-art museums, but Mustafa Centre is hands down a local icon and one place we’ve got a soft spot for. It’s not a secret to anyone living here, but it can be intimidating to conquer this building on your own. In the name of research (and out of pure curiosity), we hit up Mustafa Centre and sussed it out for you.
A little history of Mustafa Centre
For the uninitiated, Mustafa Centre on Syed Alwi Road (close to Farrer Park MRT station) is a department store where you can get practically anything from fruit to soap to refrigerators. Spread over two buildings and six levels, there’s a supermarket, electronics shop, textile centre, jewellers and more in just one place. If you know your way around this establishment, you can be in and out of the building in less than thirty minutes. But where’s the fun in that?
What started as a humble pushcart selling tea and bread in the 1950s grew exponentially to the shopping destination it is today. Mustaq Ahmad, co-founder and managing director of Mustafa Centre, started selling handkerchiefs alongside his father’s stall as a child. Seeing the potential in Mustaq’s venture, his father switched from selling food to clothing retail. Next, he acquired the space at Serangoon Plaza and set up the existing Mustafa Centre. Fun fact: up till 2005, Mustafa Centre even sold parallel imported cars!
All you need to know about Mustafa Centre: A guide to every level
Before we get into the juicy details of what we found on each floor, it’s important to note that these folks absolutely love their cable ties. To avoid getting your backpack cable-tied with your phone and wallet in it (100% true story), bring along a small crossbody bag or a tote.
Also, if you’re looking to skip the plastic bags, you’d best be prepared to debate with cashiers when you insist on using your reusable bags. Or swallow your ethics and watch them cable tie the approved flagship Mustafa bags (you can always reuse them as trash bags).
1. Basement two: Toys “R” Us meets Courts and Decathlon
Start from basement two, which is like a playground for both kids and adults. You’ll find shelves and displays stuffed with all kinds of toys: from plush bears to remote-controlled cars and even model figures. You’ll see many kids with their families running through the aisles as they pick out toys like it’s Christmas. For anyone with a game console like PlayStation, Xbox, or Nintendo Switch, you can get an array of games here.
Venture further into the store and you’ll come across a whole area dedicated to electronics. It’s almost as if they took a Courts unit from a nearby shopping mall and transported the section into Mustafa Centre. You’ll browse through cameras, refrigerators, laptops, SD cards, hard disks, and so much more than you can think of. We even found phone cases for as low as $2!
2. Basement one: Textiles and fashion
Half of this floor is dedicated to everything apparel. Whether you’re looking for menswear, dresses, baby clothes, or shoes, there’s definitely something for you. While some of the designs are a little dated at first glance, you’ll find absolute gems if you take the time to dig. It reminds us of thrift stores, except everything’s new. A Marks and Spencer jacket for $35? What an absolute steal. For anyone looking to continue their sewing journey, you can find rolls of fabric in colourful designs.
On the other side, you’ll be transported to a whole new world with glass cases and walls covered in gold. Here, you’ll find throes of people bargaining with staff, sifting through gold chains and bracelets. We even overheard a conversation by a family picking out wedding jewellery! The selection ranges from simple chains to extravagant and ornate pieces that are clearly intended to make a statement. You can also find platinum, diamonds, and jade if you walk further in past all the gold sellers.
3. Level one: If Sephora and Watsons did a collab
If you take the right escalator, you’ll land right smack in the middle of the perfume section of Mustafa (you can tell by the whiff of fragrances). Popular brands like Gucci, Paco Rabanne, Calvin Klein, Dior, and more can be found on this level. More than just perfume, you’ll see rows of deodorant, soaps, hair gel, and lotion. For anyone looking to stock their bathroom and toiletries, this is the floor to be on.
Interestingly, there are also supplements and vitamins available. Some big names include Yu Yan Sang, Brand’s, and Links. Yes, you can even get your chicken essence here. Bonus: while roaming the crowd-filled halls, we found a section of shelves dedicated to oils! Think castor, coconut, almond, and even avocado.
4. Level two: Think Giant, but on steroids
If you enjoy leisurely strolls through supermarkets as we do, you’re gonna love this floor. You’ll be greeted by shelves of fresh produce, including unique fruits like Thai custard apples and jujubes. You can stock up your kitchen with dried beans, seafood, chillis, and fruit. We saw loads of unique cordials and syrups, as well as chest freezers filled with ice cream and frozen goods like paneer cheese. We’re already planning our next trip here to get all our groceries!
Feeling peckish while on your Mustafa treasure hunt? Get freshly baked palak paneer, black olive, mutton, or barbecued chicken pizzas. Looking to entertain a group of guests at your home? Check out the snacks and cakes. You’ll find containers filled with classic treats like pineapple tarts, fish crackers, and cookies topped with M&Ms. And around the corner, there’s a full paradise of rice in different bag sizes.
5. Level three: For all must-have home basics
Is your kitchen still missing a couple of things from your home reno? Visit level three for all your needs. Walk slowly though because the shelves are filled with glassware and ceramics here. Get a set of matching plates and bowls, utensils, or a Kitchen King frying pan.
For the vinophiles, you can snag some classy wine glasses. Or pick up whiskey glasses and a decanter if that’s more your speed. There are even pillow covers, bedsheets, and blankets if you’re looking for something to spruce up your bedroom.
6. Level four: The back-to-school floor
The moment we stepped onto this floor, it was like we’d entered Popular or Kinokuniya. If you’re missing something from your stationery stash, hunt it down on this level of Mustafa. Office supplies are aplenty, from folders and files to paper products like notebooks and reams of printing paper. We even found physical greeting cards and laminated motivational posters, if that’s something you’re keen to get for your room.
It might take you a whole day to explore Mustafa Centre, but it’s worth it to get into every nook and cranny of this unique shopping centre in Singapore!
Mustafa Centre, 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704