CHENNAI: Spencer Plaza
Being the first ever mall to be built in the city, 85-year-old Spencer Plaza, popularly known as ‘Spencers’, has still not lost its charm. The mall attracts foreign tourists, who have a fetish for Indian ethnic souvenirs. “Spencer is a one-stop destination to shop for quality handicrafts and traditional jewellery,” says Ali Mohammad of Chinar Handlooms and Carpets. There are more than 65 shops in Spencers that exclusively sell handlooms and carpets exclusively. A few say that shops like Landmark have downsized their operations at the mall. “I wish I could shop at Spencers just like I did 10 years ago,” says Lalasa, a visitor at the mall.
When Chennaiites saw the size of the mammoth Express Avenue, they deemed that to be a better spot than the relatively old Citi Centre. The number of people visiting Citi Centre came down, followed by many of the showrooms in the mall facing increasing losses. However, a few visitors said that it’s been a practice for them to visit Citi Centre and will continue it despite the city getting bigger malls. The number of movie tickets available at Citi Centre has increased compared to Express Avenue and Sathyam, they say.
Empty and desolate, Ramee Mall on Anna Salai, almost resembles a haunted building. Though well-maintained, the mall lacks the usual hustle that surrounds its contemporaries. “Ever since the Metro Rail work started on Anna Salai, the crowd has dwindled considerably,” says Samar, manager at Shoppers Stop. “The shop that usually attracts around 300 people a day on an average, has reduced to 150 people now,” he adds.
Located on the busy Nungambakkam High Road, Ispahani Centre is more of a corporate complex than a shopping mall. With typical eat-outs like Café Coffee Day and Marrybrown, it is also referred to as the ‘backyard of M O P Vaishnav’. “The number of customers is much less during summer, as the college is shut for vacation. Now, it is just the corporate people and the regulars who come here and that is hardly 100-130 people per day,” says the manager at Marrybrown.
Being just a walk and minutes ride away from the localities — Arumbakkam, Anna Nagar and Shenoy Nagar — Ampa Skywalk has been attracting people right from the day it was established. Having over 20 brand stores, numerous other stores and PVR, Ampa Skywalk has become the top choice for people — both in the the surrounding area and faraway.
Fountain Plaza/ Alsa Mall
Despite the big malls in the city, Fountain Plaza and Alsa Mall situated in Egmore remain close to the hearts of numerous shoppers in the city. Located less than a kilometre away from each other, people go in for a double shopping experience by visiting both the malls on the same day. Both malls have the same kind of shops and get similar sets of visitors. Nevertheless, the petite malls have managed to stay reputable over the years.
Forum Vijaya Mall
While Vadapalani and Virugambakkam, situated in the western part of Chennai are known to be the busiest areas in the city, the new Forum Mall has now added the necessary dose of entertainment to the spot. It boasts of an easy access for people living in areas like Kodambakkam, Saligramam, Virugambakkam and Valasaravakkam.
Auchan hypermarket is one of the main attractions in the mall. While the big mall is doing well, other old complexes in the area like Raahat Plaza have lost their sheen. Raahat Plaza has been in Vadapalani for the past 15 years. The once happening and crowded mall looks deserted with only a few active shops that await customers.
Abirami Mega Mall
Built in 2003, Abirami Mega Mall is a preferred entertainment destination for residents of North Chennai. The mall boasts of an artificially-created snow world, which is its prime attraction. The officials claim that during the summer, more than 600 people visit the snow world every day. “The snow world has been a unique experience. It’s a big relief from the hot climate,” said Sneha, a visitor.