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By Ray Chong
- December 13, 2020

Explore These Unique and Interesting Culture Shops in Bras Basah Complex

Art & Culture . Singapore

Bras Basah Complex considers itself home to the Arts & Culture in Singapore, and its easy to see why — many of its shops share a unique identity of selling knowledge, novelty and artisan goods. 

Bras Basah Complex's open air shopping centre
Open shop fronts, HDB style banisters and a vintage staircase complete this shopping plaza | Ray Chong

You might have even come here in the past to buy textbooks and exam papers for school!

The complex was constructed in the 1980s, and maintains that vintage ‘old mall’ feel, with HDB blocks located right above the shopping spaces! Open air exploration, tiled corridors and winding staircases make exploring the complex not just fun, but a nostalgic experience.

And it isn't just fun to walk around - there are a ton of shops to explore to buy books and heritage goods! Here are some of the more interesting ones that we found.

Guan Yun Zhai Chinese Art Materials

It takes a real specialist to buy something from this shop, but it won't cost anything to go in and take a look!

Storefront to Guan Yun Zhai, with a variety of calligraphy books on display | Ray Chong

Guan Yun Zhai Chinese Art Materials sells an interesting stock of Chinese books, implements and calligraphy supplies. While the owners only speak Mandarin, they were accepting of me looking around their shop.

If you already have an existing interest in calligraphy, the shop is sure to provide anything you need from Bristol Paper to ceramic inkpots and brushes. If not, it's still a fine place to visit and see some traditional Chinese artistry.

Address: 231 Bain St, #01-39, Singapore 180231

Operating Hours: Unlisted

Contact: Unlisted

Gemstory

You'll want to keep an open mind for this novelty shop. Gemstory sells a wide variety of crystals like amethysts, quartz and pyrite, believing in their unique identity as proponents for happy living.

Gemstory store, with hundreds of stones and crystals on display
Sparkling crystals draw the eye, with a brilliant amethyst deposit stealing the show | Ray Chong

The owner is a staunch believer in the healing and supportive power of his crystals, so he's more than willing to help you if you decide to wander into his shop! He's very friendly, and happy to chat about any questions you might have about his products.

Another corner of the Gemstory shop
More crystals displayed for your viewing pleasure | Ray Chong

Whether you believe in it or not, the Crystals do make a very curious and attractive display. The environment of sparkling stones, gentle music and scented air invites you to stay and look around!

Address: 231 Bain St, #01-73, Singapore 180231

Operating Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 12PM - 7PM

Saturday to Sunday: 12PM - 6PM

Monday: Closed

Contact: 9366 8836

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Today Fine Art Museum

Bras Basah Complex wouldn't be much of an Art & Culture centre without some Art museums and displays!

Today Fine Art Museum's storefront
Porcelain and Canvas items just call for you to look inside! | Ray Chong

Today's Fine Art Museum is just one of the many independent galleries at Bras Basah Complex, hosting a wide collection of exclusively local pieces.

Shops like these are mostly set up to buy and sell pieces from collectors, so the atmosphere can be quiet and intimidating. However, it's worth it to brave the shop fronts and look inside for some traditional canvas art!

Just put away your phones and cameras, as most will forbid photography of their precious pieces!

Address: 231 Bain St, #01-75, Singapore 180231

Operating Hours: Unlisted

Contact: Unlisted

Qimu Arts

A small, unassuming shop front hides a distinctive attraction! Qimu Arts hosts a collection of wooden sculptures from different wood species, beads and other statuettes.

Wooden statuettes on display in Qimu Arts
Unique wooden sculptures carved into traditional Chinese Folk pieces | Ray Chong

Here, I was quite welcome to look around and take photos! 

The first thing you'll notice when you step into the shop is the minty fragrance of Yabai Wood - a rare species of cypress grown on the Tai Hang mountain in China. 

A number of their pieces are natural growths from this unique flowing wood, which is said to improve sleep conditions and purify the environmental air.

Yabai wood, with some additional carving
The unique, natural shape of Yabai wood is an art piece unto itself | Ray Chong

Other than that, the shop carries very interesting carved pieces, and its worth your time to look at each individual piece! The owners are very friendly as well - more so if you can speak Chinese!

Address: 231 Bain St, #02-87, Singapore 180231

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 12PM - 7PM

Contact: 9670 1870

Book Point

While I've picked out Book Point specifically, there are a plethora of other independent book stores to explore, and you definitely shouldn't pick just one as your favourite!

Book Point storefront
The impressive storefront of Book Point with its stacked shelves and displays | Ray Chong

A commercial Popular dominates the upper floors, but they definitely don't offer the same products and price ranges as the independents do! 

Stacked shelves of books
Any book lover's dream - shelves upon shelves of books to peruse! | Ray Chong

As a self-declared bookworm myself, I've frequented many of the different shops and come away with a variety of second hand novels for $4, some I'm not even sure are in publishing anymore.

Discounts on books - 1 for $4, 3 for $10
Deals offered by a shop directly above. What a steal! | Ray Chong

Book shopping in Bras Basah is an experience of going around, looking for the best prices and deals, finding a title that clinches your interest, and going home happy with a new set of literature to tide you over until your next visit!

And if you have the need, many of these stores are willing to buy second hand books from you, so long as they're still in good condition, of course!

Address: 231 Bain St, #02-69, Singapore 180231

Operating Hours: Monday to Thursday: 10AM - 7PM

Friday: 2:30PM - 7PM

Saturday: 10AM - 7PM

Sunday: 10:30AM - 6PM

Contact: 6338 9106

Website | Facebook

When I Was Four

Tucked away in the upper corner of the entire complex is a quirky yet attractive little shop selling nothing and everything. 

Interior of wheniwasfour
Lifestyle products and trendy souvenirs - this shop has it all | Ray Chong

Walking through the shop, I was unable to pinpoint just what it was that ‘When I Was Four’ was selling, until the owner described it to me: simple, nostalgic lifestyle products. 

It's trendy, it's unique, it's amazing. They sell everything from cards, to earrings, to desk planners - all with unique designs that somehow capture the day to day Singaporean attitude of living. 

If you're looking for gifts or just something to identify with in your everyday life, pay ‘When I Was Four’ a visit! Even their decorated shop front might inspire you to buy something.

Address: 231 Bain St, #04-41, Singapore 180231

Operating Hours: Monday to Friday: 12PM - 7:30PM

Saturday: 12:30PM - 6.30PM

Sunday: Closed

Contact: hi@wheniwasfour.com

Website | Facebook | Instagram

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