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 Jurong East has been one of the first blueprints for core development in western Singapore since the 1970s. When the Jurong East Interchange was opened in the 1988, the landscape was completely different from now. Instead of the many shopping malls connected by sheltered walkways, it was surrounded by empty green fields. Even so, the interchange was still a hustle and bustle every day then, especially during the peak hours of commute. 裕廊东步入1970年代后,成为新加坡首个西部建设发展蓝图的重镇之一。当裕廊东转换站在1988年启用时,周边的风景 线与如今大不相同,没有栉比鳞次的商场和四通八达的有盖走廊,只有大片的空旷绿地。即便如此,转换站每天熙熙攘 攘,高峰时段尤甚。 POPULAR @ Jurong East Interchange 进驻裕廊东转换站 POPULAR made the bold move in 1993, when the development of Jurong East as the main transportation hub in the region marked a new chapter for the country. Right under the Jurong East Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Station was a vacant ground floor area that spanned some 15,000 square feet. Popular Singapore embarked on an innovative new shopping matrix concept to convert the entire floor of vacant space into “The POPULAR Alley”, something unheard of in the retail industry at that time. A mega-sized POPULAR Bookstore (POPULAR Jurong East) emerged from the centre of MRT ground level, with groups of unique smaller retailers joining POPULAR, setting up their shops either inside POPULAR Bookstore, or right outside at the ground level, to create a comprehensive shopping experience for the local community. It was akin to building a small shopping mall of our own, with POPULAR as the Chief Creative Designer. The concept achieved an impressive presentation of corporate image as the sight of the store was what greeted commuters taking the long and high escalators up and down, to and from the MRT platform on the upper levels. The first of its kind in Singapore, this venture decades ago marked a beginning for POPULAR as a pioneer in developing retail spaces at MRT stations, long before retail concepts like the SMRT Xchange even surfaced. The opening ceremony of The POPULAR Alley must have been a fond memory for those who witnessed the celebratory ambience brought about by the lion dance and dragon dance troupes, along with the huge crowd eager to make their way through the entrance of POPULAR’s brand-new mega store. With a strategic location, unique layout, unprecedented retail concepts, plus the customers-friendly design with two entrances from both the MRT station and the drop-off point, POPULAR Jurong East swiftly grew into more than a bookstore for the community. In the afternoons, it was the favourite hangout for students after school. In the evenings, working professionals alighting at the drop-off point would pass through POPULAR Jurong East to get to the MRT station. More often than not, they would browse the new offerings in the store. Popular Jurong was their choice of bookstores on-the-go. POPULAR Jurong East also became the default meeting point at a time when mobile phones were still not ubiquitous yet. Ask any staff who worked at POPULAR Jurong East at that time, and they will be able to fondly recount the many moments of family and friends finding one another in the bookstore. Students in those days might also recall the first standalone section of CD-RAMA within a POPULAR outlet, the go-to place for the latest hits in the pop music scene. The staff at CD-RAMA even supported the sale of music albums with many artistes’ autograph and meet- and-greet sessions in the Jurong area at that time. Some of them took place at the empty field next to the interchange and others at the IMM Mall. 8 - popularnews 135 

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