Thursday, October 15, 2015

Media Invite: Times new concept store @ Marina Square - 5 things you want to know

Times The Bookstore. For some of you, you may remember how this iconic bookstore looked like in the past. I still vaguely remember the blue logo of the past, and these are sweet memories. Sweet because Times was where I discovered the beautiful world of books. Times was where I discovered classics like Little Women and Jane Eyre (abridged versions) during my Primary school days. Thanks to a certain tuition teacher who went to the extent of bringing my mum and I to Times to recommend books for me to read, because my mum was Chinese educated and had no idea where to start when it came to improving my English. This tuition teacher was a retired teacher from the older generation, who spoke perfectly articulated English and had such beautiful cursive writing. I will never forget her and her cat, and of course, our trips to Times to discover books.

Times has definitely come a long way since then. I admit, I’ve not been to Times for years. I don’t know why, I guess I grew out of it, and I was attracted to more independent bookstores and online bookstores. Times, to me, was an experience from the past. I knew they had a revamp, but it still wasn’t enough to entice me to walk into the store.

So when I was invited to check out the new concept store at Marina Square last week, I decided to experience it again. A key question I asked Anna Leong, marketing manager of Times was: what’s the new concept about? Because, as you can see from this photo, Times at Marina Square doesn’t look all that different from its other outlets from the outside.

TIMES MSQ 05
Photo: Times

Here are 5 things I gathered from my conversation with Anna and my two hours of discovery around the store.

1. There is a good selection of children’s books such as picture books and early readers. I was glad to discover a whole shelf of Shel Silverstein books, and even numerous titles by Leo Lionni. 

Times picture books

There are also several shelves devoted to picture books by local authors. About 30% of the store is dedicated to children’s books and other merchandise.

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2. The new Times doesn’t just sell books any more. There is a good selection of educational toys and games. Think board games and even Lego. 

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There are also word card games, games like ‘Vowel Owels’, Play Doh and also science kits. There are even plant pot kits to let kids develop a love for nature.

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3. I think adults, especially Star Wars and Star Trek fans, will be attracted to Times not just for the books. They can also feast their eyes on memorabilia from Star Wars, Star Trek, Game of Thrones and even The Walking Dead. I even saw a little Alien on the shelf, just next to Batman. The folks at the store put these items right at the front of the shop. Smart move I say. Get the adults in, and the kids will follow.

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4. I also saw quite a number of other items that are related to books, such as poetry magnets, adult colouring books and even these tempting tote bags that feature classic children’s and adults’ titles. I really love these tote bags, but they’re a tad too expensive for my taste, at $69.90 each. 

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However, I found an alternative - these four tote bags featuring Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, Picture of Dorian Gray and Sherlock Holmes, at $12.90 each.

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5. The 2,800 square feet store is extremely bright and cheerful, and the children’s section has pastel ‘clouds’ on the ceiling. The kids might not immediately notice these ‘clouds’, because they are just so focused on the books in that area, so it’s good that the decorative details are subtle. I like the even brightness of the store - it makes reading more conducive and is better for kids’ eyes. The alleys between shelves and displays are quite wide, so kids can sit and read, and store patrons, as well as prams, can still move around comfortably.

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Photo: Times

I like the new Times bookstore, I’m sure I’ll be back really soon. Yet, I fear stepping into the store. Why? It means I’ll most probably, most certainly, buy even more books, even though I don’t read them fast enough. Yes, I buy books faster than I read them, but hey! I do need books all around me for those sneaky me-times that I can steal.

There’s another reason why I dread walking into Times at Marina Square.

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A whole section devoted to Disney! Eh…. I’m not sure whether I should let EV see this…..

Can’t wait for the biggest, 7,300 square feet Times bookstore to open at Waterway Point in Punggol in January 2016. The only thing that might keep me away? Distance. I got to stay far far away.

Disclaimer: We were invited to the launch of the Times Bookstore at Marina Square. We received a complimentary card and a $50 voucher. No monetary compensation was received. All opinions and images are our own, unless otherwise stated.

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