Shopping in the Past – Yaohan, Fitzpatricks… (Part 1)

The once popular departmental store in Singapore during the 70s – Yaohan (八佰伴)!

The green colored logo is very distinguished and during that time, you can see their full page ads in the newspaper very often;

Credits : SPH, Straits Times.

Of course going to Yaohan means going to Plaza Singapura at that time. The Plaza Singapura in the 70s was so different from now.

Guess it was opened somewhere in 1975 and it was so grand, afterall not many big shopping malls were around then.

This photo shows the front of Plaza Singapura in the 90s;

Here is the inside view of the plaza in 1991. You can see that Yaohan is still around (on the left side);

I remembered I used at sit around at the benches below the escalators waiting for friends.

Some of the major departmental stores here were Daimaru and OG, and of course other stores or shops like Swensen, Swee Lee, etc. were equally grand.

Talking about Yaohan, makes me recall some of those departmental stores or supermarket that didn’t survive through the ordeal – Daimaru, K-Mart, Tokyu and Sogo.

Of course not forgetting Fitzpatricks Supermarket which was located at the now…, do you know?;

Photo Credit : Jonty

Here is another shot of the inside in 1969;

Photo Credit :

Below shows an old advertisement for Fitzpatricks in 1969;

Credit : SPH, Straits Times.

To be continued…

60 Responses to “Shopping in the Past – Yaohan, Fitzpatricks… (Part 1)”

  1. 1 acroamatic Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 2:22 am

    My first date was to a movie at old Cathay and a long chat over McDonald’s at old Plaza Singapura.

    Plaza Singapura had Ponderosa! Just above the McDonald’s. The windows in the photo are part of the restaurant. Loved the buffet. The quality went down as they opened new outlets, and they eventually went bust.

    Hmmm… Fitzpatrick’s along Scotts Road? My, Scotts road has really changed. I thought it got bought over by Cold Storage.

  2. 2 acroamatic Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 2:25 am

    Oh yes, you might be interested in this post by oceanskies. 🙂

  3. 3 laokokok Thursday, March 22, 2007 at 2:49 am

    Thanks Acroamatic for the other part of the memories. Yes, that sculptures of the late Ng Eng Teng! Another waiting spot for the late comers.

  4. 4 Lam Chun See Friday, March 23, 2007 at 2:07 am

    Yes I’ve been to Yaohan several times. I also frequented the other branch at Bt Timah Plaza which was near my house. Later it was taken over by NTUC Fairprice.

  5. 5 peter Saturday, March 24, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    I remembered when Yaohan opened at Plaza Singapura, it was the place for Asians to go in 1974. Where else could a typical Asian housewife go. Cold Storage and Fitzpatrick were for angmos and those rich folks who lived in District 9, 10 and 11.

    Surprisingly though it was Japanese-owned, it supplied more ang-mo food stuff than Japanese food like Cold Storage. For Japanese food one had to go to Liang Court basement supermarket.

  6. 6 Cherisher Sunday, March 25, 2007 at 11:56 pm

    i didnt know that there was a yaohan in plaza singapura then!

    My earliest memory was of yaohan in thomson plaza 😛

  7. 7 laokokok Monday, March 26, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Hi Cherisher,
    Welcome here and hope you find part of the lost memory here. If I’m not wrong, Yaohan first outlet was at Plaza Singapura.

  8. 8 Leon Monday, December 17, 2007 at 11:17 pm

    This is one site that deserves attention, recognition and contribution. One can tell that it’s been done with a lot of heart ! The photos has brought back such nostalgic memories of city life and for those born in the 60’s (doesn’t really matter the exact year) and has romped around in Orchard, there’s so much more to share :-
    1.) The Salad Bowl (old Cold Storage – 2nd level)
    2.) Magnolia Snack Bar (both at Cold Storage and Capitol)
    3.) The Orchard Toy Store (long houses opposite Cold Storage)
    4.) “Hai-Yan” Chinese Variety Theatre behind Wisma Indonesia
    …. and much much more !!!
    I’ll definitely like to visit again and I’d luv to find someone whom I can reminisce with over such memories.

  9. 9 laokokok Tuesday, December 18, 2007 at 9:13 am

    Thanks Leon and welcome here. Also thanks for sharing the lost ‘landmark’ memories – those were the days!

  10. 10 Larry Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I lived in Singapore from 79-82. I was 13-15 years old at that time. I remember going with my mother to the Yaohan in Thomson Plaza. We often would get ice cream at the Swenson’s there as well. Despite not having been in the country for over 25 years, when I read that the Yaohan in TP had closed it made me sad. Another little piece of my childhood slipping away. I wish I could relive that time of my life…..

  11. 11 laokokok Monday, July 7, 2008 at 7:38 am

    I guess not only Yaohan there in Thomson Plaza had closed, but the whole of TP had a facelift and changes in shops.

  12. 12 Gomosh Tuesday, January 20, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    I remembered going to Yaohan at Plaza Singapura in late 90’s to shop and I noticed that all the cashiers table will have this old rotary telephone for their staff in-house to use for communication. I was so facinated with the old phones. Now I have about 12 rotary telephones in different make and models in my collection.

  13. 13 Randy Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Anyone know about a Fitxpatricks Supermarket at the Basement of Supreme House in the early to mid 80s

  14. 14 Randy Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Anyway remember a Fitzpatricks Supermarket at the Basement of Supreme House (now park mall) in the early 80s

  15. 15 Chuang Shyue Chou Friday, June 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

    The Orchard Store moved over to the Specialists Centre and was there for many years. When the place was finally torn down, well, it closed.

    I remember the wooden panelling of the Magnolia Milk Bar.

    And also visiting the Salad Bowl once in the seventies.

  16. 16 Chuang Shyue Chou Friday, June 5, 2009 at 10:58 am

    I think you are right about that.

  17. 17 Chuang Shyue Chou Friday, June 5, 2009 at 10:59 am

    I remember frequently visiting Fritzpatrick’s supermarket with my mother in the 1977-1979 period.

  18. 18 Chuang Shyue Chou Friday, June 5, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Yes, it was bought over in 1985.

    Cold Storage was later acquired by Dairy Farm International.

  19. 19 Alec Tok Saturday, July 4, 2009 at 1:44 pm


    My name is Alec Tok. My film “A BIG ROAD” premiered at the the 22nd Singapore International Film Festival on 20th April 2009. I am Singaporean and based in New York.

    My next film, will be set in Singapore, circa 1972.

    You seem like someone who would enjoy being involved in a project like that.
    If indeed you are, please get in touch with me at


  20. 20 Mike Friday, July 10, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Fond memories of Plaza Singapura when I was a kid growing up in the 70s and 80s in Singapore.

    I remember there were small bridges linking the small ponds outside of the old Plaza Singapura in the 70s and 80s. I ate my food in one of the little so-called huts in those ponds and watched the world go by.

    Remember going to watch Shaggy Dog the movie at the old Cathay cinema on a weekend morning with my godmum and her son. Did shopping and had our grub at the food court in Plaza Singapura and we then walked from the side entrance/exit of the building towards Cathay Cinema.

  21. 21 laokokok Monday, July 13, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Those were the good old days Mike. Personally I find the old Plaza Singapura more shoppers friendly than the new one.

  22. 22 Ken Lim Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 1:05 am

    I remembered that there was a Doremi at Plaza Singapura on the 6th floor opposite the Yamaha Music school
    It was probably Singapore’s first food court
    I also have memories of a department store at Outram Park called “Dai Ren Kong Si”. Cannot recall the english name already
    Anyone remember?

  23. 23 Icemoon Thursday, October 22, 2009 at 1:00 am

    I thought Fitzpatrick was at current Paragon site. Was there a branch along Scotts Road?

    Hey, how come nobody mentions Yaohan at Parkway Parade?! Laokokok should be familiar with this eastern landmark.

  24. 24 laokokok Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:42 am

    You are right Ken. I remembered it was always crowded and difficult to get a seat. Frankly I preferred the old setup at Plaza Singapura. Now that there are more shops, but it seems very congested and cramped.

    “Dai Ren Kong Si” or literally translated as “Big People Emporium” was another popular shopping outlet at that time too.

  25. 25 laokokok Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 7:43 am

    Yes Icemoon, definitely I’m very familiar with that Parkway Yaohan. Used to hang out there over the weekend.

  26. 26 delicious Thursday, November 12, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    This brings back memories of a favourite childhood haunt – Tay Ban Guan supermarket in Katong. The one thing that sticks in my mind… the smell of sponge rusks baking as you walk past the alley that connects to East Coast Road.
    Those were the good days.

  27. 27 Emily Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 12:20 am

    There used to be an underpass that linked to Yaohan basement or toy section. So interesting, think it was one of the earlier underpasses built. Used to walk in the underpass from the bus-stop opposite to Yaohan. There could be some people selling toys, etc in the underpass.

    Yaohan also had a food section selling japanese food. During those days, japanese food was definitely not so easily available as in today.

    My dad used to park his car behind cold storage outside a building like a warehouse. Can walk down from Emerald Hill to Cold Storage. Still like the old cold storage with the settings so nostlagic. Too bad it was torn down to make way for Centrepoint.

  28. 28 laokokok Wednesday, April 14, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I wonder if the underpass still there? Yaohan used to have staff canteen in some of their establishments and have visted them too. Gone were those days….

  29. 29 Emily Friday, April 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    No, the underpass is not there anymore. There is no unnderpass that leads to the other side of the road except at the mrt station.

    Dunno why it seemed to be full of life and interesting altho life was simplier then. Waiting for cab at plaza sing taxi stand was definitely a tiring experience. It would form a long, long queue when the dept store closed and it could take up to 1 hour to wait for a cab ! Not forgetting that there were no handphones to call for a cab then.

  30. 30 laokokok Wednesday, April 21, 2010 at 7:34 am

    Thanks Emily. Yes the taxi queue at Plaza Singapura is always so long.

  31. 31 The Bakerwoman Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    Hi, I love this link…thanks to Gwen!

    Yaohan brought me the fond memories of my childhood days!

    I enjoyed going to Katong Yaohan, I think it used to be the premises opposite Seaview Hotel….then Ikea & Cold Storage took over 😦

    I remembered they had nice bakeries….with great doughnuts and yummy an pan, Japanese red bean cakes too!

    This also reminds me of Metro’s bakery, which was called Brandoll?

    My mum would buy me nice Japanese T-shirts n shorts in Yaohan, nice stationeries set (I remembered my Colleen colour pencils too)!

    Walking down memory lane…..can you remember Cortina Shopping Ctr in Hill Street?

  32. 32 laokokok Wednesday, April 28, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Definitely I remembered Cortina! That’s where I bought my first long pants.

  33. 33 80s Guy Friday, May 28, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    There was something extra special about Katong Yaohan – the talking mannequin. They used to go, “Welcome! Welcome to Katong Yaohan.”

    I was fascinated by them cos it was such an innovation in those days.

    loved the 70s and 80s. Life was simpler then.

  34. 34 Vince Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    yesh, there is still an underpass leading from the basement of Plaza Singapura to the Istana Park opposite the road! But I’m not sure if it is the same underpass Emily talked about.
    There is also Oriental Emporium, where my mum used to bring me frequently to in the 90s, to the outlets at Bukit Merah Central and Queensway Shopping Centre. The outlet at Bukit Merah is now an NTUC Fairprice mega-branch.. and the one at Queensway is now a sports apparel shop. Both places still look the same though! That’s what I love about Queensway SC.. the old world shopping centre charm!

  35. 35 Martin Everard Tuesday, February 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm

    In 1952, as the height of the emergency, my parents decised to return to the UK. In her memoirs, she wrote the following about Fitzpatrick’s: We went to the Cold Storage and found out that Holt had left and was running a rival, called Fitzpatrick’s Cold Storage at the bottom of Orchard Road. Originally, Fitzpatrick had joined the Singapore Cold Storage around 1941 and they paid dearly for that orgy of sacking as they found they were severely depleted of European staff when the war ended and they re-opened the store. So many of the old Europeans had died in Changi or were too old or ill to come back out to Singapore again.

    They found that they were more or less left with Fitzpatrick, an Irish-Australian, who proceeded to more or less run the Cold Storage as he pleased together with Holt. Then, something happened and the two of them decided to open a rival and they were doing this very successfully.

    Now my father was one of the Managers at the Singapore Cold Storage in 1937 until Singapore fell to the Japanese Imperial Army and he was taken prisoner. You will be able to read all about this in the memoirs, Call Them the Happy Years, to be published in March 2011.

    And, my mother exhibited her paintings at Robinsons in KL as had a number of shows in Singapore. Does anyone remember these or have any of her paintings or know of anyone who has. I would love to find as many owners in the Far East.

    Contacct me on: or through the website

  36. 36 petrina Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I love Yaohan @ old PS then.. love shopping for yakult at the supermarket then sit on bumper car while paying only 20cents!
    The mcdonalds there have a big ball pit and playground too 🙂

    My grandparents have a Sichuan restaurant there. I think 4th or 5th level. beside Swensens. Anyone remember?

  37. 37 Sophian Salim Friday, January 20, 2012 at 3:20 am

    i bought my first guitar there at Swee Lee in early 90s.

  38. 38 Bernard Elias Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    I remember the big Fitzpatricks outlet used to be on Orchard Rd where Paragon Shopping Centre is now. Yamaha Music School was on the 6th floor of Plaza Singapura and across from it was a really big Cafeteria where you’d pick up a tray and get in line for your food long before the concept of ‘food courts’ appeared on the scene. They had really good Laksa there and Yaohan used to be my favourite haunt as the toy store was well stocked with remote controlled cars and one of the few places that had the first Original, and most extensive Star Wars figurine collection. I would plead with mum for a remote controlled car every time we stopped over by the bakery to wait for the next freshest batch of garlic fried chicken wings as it was always gone before it had time to be displayed on the shelf and it was to this day, the best fried chicken I’ve ever had, better than KFC.

  39. 39 Jamie Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    I want to know the name of the Indonesian restaurant on the 7th floor of the old plaza singapura. Where has the restaurant shift to? I really missed the food there!

  40. 40 Terry Burke Saturday, September 1, 2012 at 5:40 am

    Fitzpatrick’s was definitely not in Scott’s Road. It was situated in Orchard Road at the current location of Paragon Shopping Centre. I remember this very clearly because there was a delightful restaurant upstairs on the second floor above the supermarket where I used to have lunch every day between 1965 and 1972 which was operated by Fitzpatrick’s. What a charming place Orchard Road was in those days. I remember a policeman standing on a over-turned wooden tub directing the traffic at the Orchard Road/ Scotts Road-Paterson Road junction at “rush-hour” every evening! There weren’t even traffic lights at the junction in those days and traffic along Orchard Road ran in both directions.

  41. 41 electoneboy Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    i took electone lessons at yamaha in plaza singapura every sunday for 6 years from 1979-1984. and every time i was there i would visit the toy department at yaohan basement looking at the toy cars until my itchy hands ‘took’ one one day and i was caught! but they let me off once i paid for it from my allowance.

    i would use the underpass just at the back of the toy department to walk to the bustop at haw paw glass tower for my journey back home. the underpass is now at pizzahut…

  42. 43 Bernard Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    The chendol was very good. Restaurant no longer around though.
    Best currently is tambuah mas

  43. 44 Bernard Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    I remember the taiyaki ( fish shaped red bean bun). Very nice unlike today’s version
    Which has too much dough.
    Also the chicken wings…something like
    Old Chang kee chkn wings but much much
    Nicer ESP with chili sauce

  44. 45 Bernard Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Any one remember the Indian temple where
    Dhoby Gaut mrt station is now at?(opp ma Donald house)?

  45. 46 Terry Burke Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    @ Bernard
    Yes, I distinctly remember the Indian temple and I think that I can remember that there was a carpet shop nearby selling expensive Persian and other oriental carpets. I am glad to see that one landmark still stands on this stretch of Orchard Road, namely McDonald House, the red brick building opened in the 1950’s that housed a branch of the HSBC Bank. I remember clearly the day when Indonesian infiltrators exploded a bomb in McDonald House in 1965 during Indonesian “Confrontasi” that killed a couple of bank employees. I was in the grounds of the Singapore General Hospital in Outram Road at the time and clearly heard the blast, so you can imagine the force of the explosion. Those were heady adventurous days in Singapore in the early 1960’s!

    Another landmark in this stretch of Orchard Road at the corner of Orchard Road/Penang Road that was demolished in the 1980’s was Amber Mansion. This was one of the earliest apartment buildings in Singapore built in the early 20th century. At one time the British Council was located there. There was a shopping mall on the ground floor that contained a coffee shop (I can’t remember its name) as well as a rather boring bookshop that always seemed empty of customers.

  46. 47 Bernard Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 9:56 pm

    So many memories. I vaguely remember the carpet shop I think. Was it just after this taiwanese restaurant called ‘golden leaf’? This would have been opp orchard plaza I think.
    I attended a kindergarten somewhere near where heeren is. There was a nice old style Malay barber shop there.
    Also- anyone remember tropicana at scotts?
    One memory of orchard road then was the piling n the smell of construction smoke which – I loved!

  47. 48 Terry Burke Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Another fond memory! Does anyone remember the rather up-market Chinese antique shop called “Moon Gate” located in Orchard Road more or less opposite the Mandarin Hotel, just along from the current Paragon Building? What made it so very interesting and charming was that its door was a Chinese circular moon gate, the only one to the best of my knowledge in Singapore. Sadly of course it has gone, replaced by architecturally hideous high-rise glass and steel like much else in Orchard Road. The character has gone out of it because now it could be an anonymous downtown street in any major city in any part of the developed world. I hope that nobody ever gets the bright idea of chopping down those marvelous trees because once they have gone then everything has gone. I feel deeply saddened that such a rich and vibrant architectural heritage has gone forever, lost to future generations, and replaced by contemporary architectural mediocrity. In one hundred years from now citizens interested in their historical environment may not think too kindly of those in the 1980’s and 90’s who were supposed to be responsible for preserving what was most historically and aesthetically relevant in the environment in the face of what has been regarded by some as “progress”.

  48. 49 Sandra Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Yes Ken, Do Re Mi was a popular haunt for secondary school kids from MGS, CHIJ, SJI and ACS. Lots of memories.

  49. 50 TerryB Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Yes, I remember the two Magnolia Snack Bars well, especially the Capitol one. I remember going into it on a Sunday in May 1963 within a few days of arriving in Singapore. I much preferred the Capitol one to the Orchard Cold Storage one. I also remember The Salad Bowl in Orchard Cold Storage in the late 60’s and early 70’s where your steak was served on a cast-iron platter and all reasonably priced.

    However my most vivid memory of Orchard Cold Storage was during the 1964 riots. Curfew had been declared, but was lifted for a few hours after a couple of days to enable people to replenish food stocks. There were British soldiers guarding the entrance to Cold Storage for the protection of shoppers. Few people lingered. It was simply a matter of getting bare necessities then straight home and Orchard Road was eerily almost deserted. Thank God those days are in the past!

  50. 51 fazly saleh Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 12:01 am

    hi, did anyone realised Yaohan was also in the west before? Yaohan was in Jurong bowl building after taking over from the ice skating rink. The building now houses shengsiong. Jurong back then was also the eastcoast of the west, with Singapore only drive-in cinema, a roller skating rink and ice skating rink. Singapore first macdonalds drive thru was also located in Jurong. Not forgetting was our equivalent of the big splash, which is called misokoshi gardens i think before it was rename CNwest. My guess only people from the west has memories of these places.

  51. 52 Benedict V Saturday, November 23, 2013 at 10:58 am

    There is another Fitzpatrick branch in holland village. Cause I worked there before. I stayed in Holland Drive. I also worked in Yaohan Plaza Singapura in 1979 then. The former “Personnel Manager” Mr Ng Lye Yin treated me and my staffs very fair and courteous. Yes, those were the “stress-free and freedom” days of my life. Love it!

  52. 53 Coming Soon! Thomson Three @ Upper Thomson Sunday, January 19, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    I know this web page offers quality based articles
    or reviews and other data, is there any other web page
    which offers such stuff in quality?

  53. 54 mua ban online Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 7:17 am

    This cart is all steel, apart from the plastic handle (which
    has a metal core), the folding plastic “youngsters” seat for a doll and the plastic wheels.

  54. 56 motorola leather pouch velcro Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 6:28 am

    I do consider all of the ideas you have presented to your post.
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