The Sunday Flea Market @ China Square Central Closes. An End of a (Toy Shopping) Era.

The pictures in the video I made (featured above) were taken on the afternoon of November 26th, 2017, before the Sunday Flea Market closes at China Square Central - where we Singaporeans affectionately call “CSC” - on it’s last day of operation. (Viewable on Facebook).

After nearly a decade of providing hobbyists and collectors a weekend shopping venue, and THE go-to-spot for toys and retro shopping (real “vintage” and not “hip faux-retro”) in Singapore, especially when overseas friends-n-folks come a visiting - it is yet another “End Of An Era” for toy-shopping options in SG …

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I’ll always have fond memories of Mdm Ho’s booth of vintage goods and toys, where
I purchased sticker sheets over a decade back, and continue to search thru her stock
everytime I visit CSC! Mdm Ho will be moving to Fook Hai Building in the new location,
while her goods are also available online via Carousell: “Chalaoh”.

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The flea market hosted a variety of vendors offering goods from brand new to (mostly) older items - what we call “second-hand”, while a nicer term is “pre-loved” … including decades old publications/books/photos, household and commercial decor and memorabilia, geekdom staples, like comicbooks, movie and retro-cartoon related merch, and of course “toys”!

Mr Neo has been at CSC for the past 8 years, since setting up shop a couple of years after the sunday flea market was set-up at CSC, having previously moved here from the flea market in Clarke Quay - as have most shops had. As a hobby, and sideline “fun” activity (instead of a “full time” retail tenure), Mr Neo will be bringing along his collectibles to the new flea market location in Fook Hai Building.

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Not everything you see in the pictures are “discounted dirt-cheap old items” though, hardly so, in fact. Even during (the now defunct) flea market at Clarke Quay (circa early-2000s), there will be a mixed bag of pricing, sometimes based on secondary market-prices, sometimes the two “magic words” in my personal vocabulary: Clear Stock”.

Even my memories of the “Thieves Market” at Sungei Road had changed through the year, when folks begin to feel that they could care more for items what younger generation folks could easily pay more for, for something their parents or grandparents would have thrown away. Or to replace what they themselves had thrown away during their baby boom-years LOL

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“Toy Hunting” in CSC has never really been about “cheap toys” in its primary aim anyways, but it is always a bonus to find the exception, IMHO. But what it is good at providing, is “surprise”. In a digital age where we know what’s new to reach the toy-shelves - be it via blogs and sites such as TOYSREVIL (*cough*), or Facebook group headsup - you somehow know what it is you are looking for, when we head to a physical brick-n-mortar shop/venue (versus buying it online), but finding out surprises at tables in a flea market, might provide a different thrill altogether!

Images from my 2009 coverage of CSC, with the shops no longer in operation, alas.

The Sunday Flea Market is not just about the tables alone, as it is bolstered by the full-time retailers with shop-space surrounding both the group level and second floor of the CSC complex - all of whom fulfills the notion of a “shopping haven” for toys, IMHO.

Besides tabling at CSC myself a couple of times thru the decade (2009 + 2010 / would’ve done MORE if I hadn’t had Stroke in 2010 :p), I used to head to CSC for my weekly toy-fixes, even before starting the TOYSREVIL-blog (actually), and had since lamented the “mystery plastic bag”-syndrom = whereby the tendency to purchase stuff/anything I didn’t really “need”, end up staying in the plastic bag(s) it had been brought home in, and rediscovered weeks/months/years later, item STILL INSIDE of the bag, and never removed since bringing it back home the weeks/months/years before!

True story, bro.

CSC was a place where “exclusive” toys from our local toy-con would the next day at CSC at a marked-up price (even moreso when the artist/designer had autographed it the day before :p) … a place where you could find old toys released and dead-stocked, to bootlegs galore - from bootlegs to KAWS knock-offs.

At the core of it all - at least for me personally - CSC was a venue we/fellow-toy-collectors could go to, to soak in the toys, the sensation and colors, the smell of toys (true story bro), and enjoy the atmosphere of fellow collectors, and a chance to meet fellow-collectors - both new and old friends. I am suddenly feeling a sense of "loss" similar to that of nearly two decades back when Clarke Quay closed its flea market operations ... *man-sob*

But I shouldn't really be too "worried" ... as surely as "Life will find a way" in Jurassic World/Park, "TOYS" - and the love for toys - will bring us all together, somewhere, somewhen! :)

Vendors ran the gamut from all walks of the street, an example being Gordon and Jerald.
Both gentlemen will not be continuing at the new flea market location, alas.
Their “Happy Box” will be missed…

Featured above is Mr Tan with his marked down CDs (“Compact Discs”), my one and only CD-person I buy from these days, especially 80s retro albums! I have my suspicions that Mr Tan is a “metal-head” (considering what he plays out of his CD player most times I come to his table LOL), but I’ve never asked him directly … maybe I will next time, when I visit his flea market table at the new location in Fook Hai Building.

My fav “music uncle” at CSC Sunday Flea Market!

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In a culture where toyshops are scattered across our lil’red dot of an island city, a single spot where most of the toyshops reside, is an excellent excuse to visit to sate our collective addiction to TOYS during the weekend, IMHO! Sort of like a “toy-convention”, but instead of just a single weekend in a year, we have 52 x Sundays, and that’s not including the 365-days where the built-in toy-shops reside!

While unable to compare with the multiple-storied “toy-heaven” complex in Hong Kong, the variety seen here is comparable to say, Thailand’s Pirom Plaza? But it really does not matter, as one man’s “casual toy temptation” might be another man’s “treasure” LOL

”…hastily shot on a 10th December, Sunday noon, of a typical weekly/weekend flea market @ China Square Central = a hotbed of toys of all genres, from vinyls to gasaphons, of fashion, accessories and travel-trinkets, to antiques as far as your memories can take you…” was my blog-entry from 2006, which featured the above-video!

And while the stalls themselves have both seen long-time regular vendors and changing goods for the past decades+, our collective desires for toys and collectibles will continue to be sated, for when the flea market stalls next move to Fook Hai Building for a December launch (just opposite of CSC, beside Hong Lim Complex), while the brick-n-mortar toy & collectible retailers (including my Go-To-Art Toy staple Ozzo Collection) will move out by mid-December(ish) and operate out of Havelock 2 from January 2018!

“China Square Central” is currently a part of “Frasers Centrepoint Malls”. Having been in operation since mid-2002, the location will next see a “revamp” into another incarnation / destination in Singapore.

Below-left: Fook Hai Building / Below-right: 2 Havelock Rd


Yapool said…
Went there quite often ever since I accidentally discovered it some years back. A great place to find tokusatsu kaiju figures. Sad that the flea market has to go but luckily Fook Hai manages to "sustain" some of it...