The POPULAR outlet at Lee Rubber Building is closing its doors after 16 years. The outlet in the heart of KL Chinatown, next to Petaling Street, has been an iconic landmark and part of the colourful mosaic of Chinatown history.
The first Popular outlet was opened at Damansara Jaya in 1983 which was then closed down due to slow sales. Then in 1984, the second outlet was opened at Jalan Hang Lekir (not Jalan Sultan) and the one at Lee Rubber Building opened in 2003.
Since its humble beginnings, the bookstore has been a book lover’s haven, offering a wide range of stationery items as well. With its success, it became an impetus for Chou Cheng Ngok, the enterprising chairman of Popular Holdings Limited, to branch out to other parts of Kuala Lumpur. Since then, Popular has mushroomed into an 89-outlet chain and has been recognised by Malaysian Book of Records as the largest bookstore chain in Malaysia.
“The closing down sale was a small token of appreciation by the management to all our loyal customers,” said Popular’s Business Development general manager Siew Sheau-Liang.
The outlet will cease its operation from today onwards and in line with this, a series of Farewell Treats promotions was earlier organised to offer books, music CDs and stationery.
“Over the past decade, Petaling Street’s surrounding environment has faced drastic changes, causing the customer’s profile in this area to go the same way. Furthermore, there are more new shopping malls in KL, pulling away the customer base from Petaling Street and there’s an increasing number of foreigners in the area.
“The decision was made to close the outlet as it was no longer able to operate efficiently. The decision was hard as most business owners would not simply give up an old shop. As far as we know, the building is still open for sale,” he explained.
“The public can anticipate a new store opening in Sunway Velocity Mall at Jalan Cheras this year, which will be taking up 1,486.4sq m, covering a wide selection of books and products.”
At this point, Popular has 27 outlets in Klang Valley area with more in the pipeline. For those in city centre, probably the one in Avenue K or Sunway Putra would be the most convenient.
“Our customers were like our family members who grew with our company, and we believe that everyone can see the drastic changes at the once vibrant Petaling Street. It was sad to leave this place, as it was once where we branched out to who we are currently, but this is a necessary business decision.
“This outlet is where my career had started, and this is why I have such sentimental feelings towards this place,” said Siew.