One of the main options to kill weekend boredom in Kuala Lumpur is to head for a shopping mall. We flock to these multistorey, air-conditioned concrete oases to escape the sweltering tropical heat, and for good reason–larger malls in the Federal Territory are a one-stop shop for movies, arcade, good food, shopping, events, performances and groceries. These malls–with their brand label boutiques and ability to hold thousands of shoppers within gleaming, modern facades on any given weekend–are the prominent faces of the shopping industry here, and there are so many that you won’t exhaust your options.
What you might suffer every now and again, however, is mega-mall fatigue, making you crave a more low-key shopping experience with truly one-of-a-kind finds. That desire is what led me to head over to Amcorp Mall last weekend to check out their flea market, which has been dubbed Malaysia’s “best and largest.” At least, by the mall website’s own admission, it was “once the biggest indoor flea market in the Klang Valley area,” and although shoppers “may not find Amcorp Mall interesting but for those who loved antiques and collectibles, this mall is definitely your choice all the time!”
Alright, then. I definitely enjoyed the two hours I spent browsing all the offerings at the flea market tables on all five levels of the mall, clustered outside regular shops that are close to the escalators. Not all sold antiques, but the ones that did provided an interesting glimpse into a Malaysian lifestyle few of us have much to do with now–stamp collections, old money collections, analog telephones, old pocket watches, coal-powered clothes irons, CDs, vinyl and even an antique pistol, are just some of the finds available at this market.
Having visited other flea markets in other countries, it’s not personally my best (or largest) flea market, but its’ vendors offerings are certainly diverse enough that it’s worth a visit. Best time to hit up the flea market is after 11:00 a.m., because true to Malaysian form, quite a few vendors tend to show up later. The catch-22 with showing up later is having trouble finding parking when everyone else is doing the same! Riding the LRT (Taman Jaya) is a good alternative.
And, despite the apparent inferiority complex conveyed by the website, the mall itself has a few unique store-tenants that cater to niche interests:
Toys and Comics Shops: I counted at least five stores specialized in comics and action figures. One in particular stood out to me for rows of rare, vintage Barbie dolls stacked against the shop’s window. At the very bottom was a Wonder Woman, next to a few Lord of the Rings Barbie Elves, including a Legolas. You’re bound to run into this shop on one of the upper levels while browsing this mall.
Gift Shops: Again, there are a few, but I found two that are particularly noteworthy. One is a large, warehouse-like store with a plethora of photo frames, gift boxes, kitchenware, lampshades, toys, all the types of tea accessories you can think of, and large quantities of fake flowers. The prices being reasonable makes it a great place to buy party gifts or accessories–just to give you an example, a small teapot can be as low as RM5, and a large ceramic salt and pepper set with dish stand costs RM12. The second place is a toy shop selling board games, cards, balloons and crafts for children, all at low low prices. The only thing that might not appeal to everyone is that these are budget versions of beloved brand name toys. So instead of Play-Doh, you’ll have to be content with getting Play-Duh (yeah I completely made that up but you get the picture) for the kids. Still, this store may serve you well when you’re looking for Christmas stocking stuffers or take-home gifts for a children’s party.
Books: Bookworms, stay away! If you’re a fan of romance novels, chick-lit, classics, children’s learning books, coffee table books, cookbooks and self-help volumes, stay far far away from a shop called BookXcess! The shop is able to offer customers shockingly discounted reads, as they buy overprints from publishers. As a result, genres found at BookXcess tend to skew towards the likes of those listed above, along with a smaller selection of acclaimed bestsellers. It’s a lovely way to spend a few hours, reading Sophie Kinsella or Danielle Steel, sitting on any one of the store’s quaintly shaped stack-of-books footstools (which are also available for at RM300 apiece; they are made of solid wood.)
Collectibles Shop: Joe’s MAC (Music, Art & Collectibles) blends in nicely with the weekend flea market vibe, but the best part is, you can visit any day of the week since it’s a vintage and antique shop located on the basement level of the mall. Vinyl, which is relatively rare around here, is a huge part of the shop’s offerings and a Malaysian vinyl lover’s dream location. Used music instruments, audio equipment, oil paintings, CDs, books and antique knick knacks make up the rest of the store. I’m told that the store owner personally tends to selling requests and assisting customers in sourcing for a specific item. A rare gem indeed.
There are a few other stores worth mentioning, but I think I’ll leave you to plan a weekend trip here to find your own favourites.
18, Persiaran Barat, (Off Jalan Timur)
46200 Petaling Jaya,