May 31, 2015

Mitsui Outlet Park KLIA opening

As a self-proclaimed shopaholic (a term that I cringe at to be associated with, but undeniably it is who I am), I've always on the lookout for discounted items be it online or offline. A bargain hunter, a discount hound, a promotion prowler - all these terms are quite naturally me, and promotions on the radio or the sight of slashed prices on merchandises would be the proverbial music to my ears and my version of eye candy. Up to a point that my friends are reluctant to go out with me just because I spend too much time ogling for the best designer bargains during our outings. So it was with a great excitement that I heard that the latest addition to Malaysia's 'proper' outlet malls (after Johor Premium outlet) was opening in due time this weekend.

Yat and I headed to a spot just right before KLIA 2 to witness the first day of Mistui Outlet Park KLIA opening. A joint venture between the Japanese real estate giant Mitsui Fudosan Co Ltd and Malaysian airports operator MAHB, Mitsui is the first of its kind in Southeast Asia. Another impressive fact is that this is barely the first phase, which would have 130 shops by year-end. The number of shops would be expanded to 60 by 2018 and an additional another 60 by 2021, totalling a whopping 250 shops.

I did not expect the crowd would be so big in the first day of opening (should've anticipated this as Malaysians are well-known for bargain hunting and in addition this is the first mid-range outlet mall in the vicinity of KL). The parking lot is full with cars, crowd favorites like Nike and Clarks have people bee-lining to go inside the stores, and the mall is basically a huge kindergarten mess with families bringing small children (quite a nightmare if you're looking for a relatively tranquil shopping moments). 

A cringe-worthy, jampacked mall situation that I try to avoid lately

A throng of shoppers at Clarks!

A butt-to-butt and elbow-to-elbow rummaging experience at Nike

Shop-wise, my expectation does not veer off from JPO's list of retailers, but please have in mind that the list are quite miniscule and slightly variable compared to the latter. So far plenty of shops are still not quite open (a little bummed out that my sole objective of coming here is to rummage through old season Topman, only to find out that they're opening 30th June; and there's a Melium Outlet as well (alas, still not opened too). Otherwise expect more Japanese retailers in the future (so far Isetan Outlet and Japanese homeware brands like Noritake and Fan are in the list). Needless to say I'm anticipating of more Japanese retail experience, and from the looks of it Mitsui Outlet Park is attempting to make the working culture more Japanese with the addition of Japanese staff interspersed among the seemingly unenthusiastic local employees.

Rows and rows of shops that are unfortunately unopened as of yet. Majority will only operate come June 30th or even July.

The touted four concepts of the mall are anything but. Sunshine Square (a 'luxury street concept lit by skylights'), Pier Walk (a chic esplanade ambience), Tropical Plaza (a greenery-filled avenue) and Beach Walk (a breezy simulation of the beach) looks like another design trap but hopefully in the future there is some real pragmatic design to elevate the shopping experience. For those there to kill time before a flight, the mall's flight information display system will let you keep tabs. There will also be flight SITA check-in kiosk services and a free baggage storage service.

Words and images by Hafidzudin Zainal

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