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Sunday March 21, 2010

All under one roof

A neighbourhood mall gets the thumbs-up from its customers.

LONG gone are the days when shopping malls were just places where you shopped till you dropped.

These days, the shopper isn’t going to be fazed with all the boutiques at hand or the number of places where they can eat. Most people now, especially the older generation, look for a shopping mall that has all the necessary facilities and conveniences to make it a one-stop-centre for everything, even ATMs and a post office.

Shop, eat and play: Like most shopping malls, TCM has a good mix of shops, eating outlets and service centres to cater to the needs of customers.

Convenience seems to top the list when it comes to malls, and when it’s right smack in the neighbourhood, it would be even better – as long as it does not affect the regular flow of traffic, of course. And that’s why most folks in the Petaling Jaya area finds Tropicana City Mall (TCM), which is strategically located along the Sprint Expressway, a welcome alternative.

For Mindy Yap, a 46-year-old human resource manager, TCM’s location wins hands down compared to other bigger shopping malls in the area.

Yap, who lives in the SS2 neighbourhood just a stone’s throw away from TCM, says she is happy with the facilities there.

As the mall is relatively new, finding space for parking is easy and the best part, she says, is that she can use her Touch ‘n’ Go card to enter. “It’s convenient to use the card,” she says. “I save a lot of time when I do my shopping here.”

Another draw for her at TCM is Carrefour, the anchor tenant there. She buys most of her groceries from this supermarket, which is the main reason why she prefers TCM.

“And with the GP sale happening until April, everything is on special price, including at the supermarket,” Yap says.

Play station: Children can have fun at Kiddos Corner while the parents shop.

There are various facilities for children at TCM and parents have been quick to take advantage of them.

“There is a Fun Art Centre located on the second floor, just beside Toys “R” Us. I always drop my son there while I go about doing my weekly shopping,” says another frequent TCM visitor, Melinda Chan. The centre offers a variety of art activities, and with Planet Enfant and Gymboree and Kiddos Corner also having outlets there, parents do have better incentives to visit TCM.

Since it was opened in December 2008, TCM has built up a customer base that now describes it as “a food and beverage heaven that doubles up as a friendly neighbourhood mall.”

There are some tenants here that you won’t find in other malls yet, says a TCM spokesperson, referring to shops like Red Army watches and Story Book.

Story Book is the first concept photo compilation services store (unique album compilation) in Malaysia, according to the spokesperson.

Staff at the shop can help you transform all your pictures, including very old photos, into the cover of books, mugs, T-shirts and many other items.

“I have several photos of my friend’s trip to Switzerland so as a gift, I sent the pictures to Story Book and the staff made a calendar out of them,” says Alwin Chee, who has tried out the store’s services.

Hawaiian mood: Bad Ass Coffee, located on the Ground Floor, serves Hawaiian delights.

“The store’s concept is something that I have been looking for and it’s so convenient to have it here in TCM where it is not congested and the parking rate is reasonable.”

The list doesn’t end there. For food and beverage, there is Bad Ass Coffee, located on the Ground Floor, that serves Hawaiian delicacies.

A check with several customers reveals that they come here for the aromatic coffee and snacks, especially the Good Ole’ Southern Pecan. Bad Ass uses Kona coffee beans from the Hawaiian islands where the volcanic soil is ideal for this type of beans.

Then there is also Bobalicious Smoothies, a cafe that specialises in “boba” drinks, which is the tapioca pearl in the smoothie. It also serves a limited range of dishes including spaghetti and lasagna.

No shopping mall is quite complete if it does not have a couple of good restaurants. One of the busiest restaurants in TCM is Sushi Tei, a Singaporean home-grown restaurant chain.

“My children are all living on their own and I don’t have the mood to cook every day for my husband and myself. That’s why you can always find us here during lunch time. The food is cheap but good and the service is excellent,” says a frequent customer who identified herself as Pammy.

There is even a pet store that stocks animal food, cages and litter boxes. And soon there will be a Pos Malaysia office. The management says it is also working on asking a few banks to set up ATMs there.

Up on the top level, there is a GSC multiplex that plays all the latest Hollywood movies, plus some Indian, Chinese and Malay flicks too.

Located next to the movie theatres are IT centre and gadget stores. It is certainly a good location as movie-goers who love browsing for gadgets can have a look around while waiting for their films to be screened.

Other tenants worth checking out are Kiku Zakura, a Japanese restaurant; Artista Bar & Restaurant, which at night comes alive with bands playing oldies music; and speciality stores like the Mynt department store, Samsonite and Crocs. Most of the shops here are now offering stuff at ridiculous prices in conjunction with the GP sale.

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