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Starting the project out, I actually thought of finding out what else Sunshine Plaza is known for because from an art student’s perspective, all I know about the place is for its printing services. And so that’s the direction I first went ahead in. However, after doing all the research, I realised that the printing services is exactly what makes the site unique.
There is very little information available online about Sunshine Plaza. Searching high and low for anything about the site, these are what I managed to find:
According to real estate websites PropertyGuru and srx, Sunshine Plaza is:
- A mixed development comprising office, retail and residential units
- Built in 2001
I, of course, have chosen to focus on Sunshine Plaza Shops, because it is the only publicly accessible area and I also have no access to the private residence and it doesn’t make much sense for me to go about investigating offices.
According to the ‘unofficial website of Sunshine Plaza’, when the site was built, the City Developments Limited appointed DTZ as the main marketing agent for sale by private treaty.
- I noted this as important as my mom, just so happened to have worked at DTZ.
- Accessibility (Half-secondary half-primary research)
Address: 91, Bencoolen Street, Singapore 189652
According to the real estate sites, Sunshine Plaza is:
- Located within the city fringe, only a 5-minute drive from the Central Business District (CBD) as well as Orchard Road
- Accessible from Bras Basah MRT (0.36km), Rochor MRT (0.43km), Dhoby Ghaut MRT (0.46km), Bugis MRT and Bencoolen MRT, all within a 500-metre radius. Specified distances are from PropertyGuru.
- Close to LASALLE College of the Arts and Singapore Management University
- Nearby attractions include Bugis Village and Fort Canning Park
- Close to Bugis Junction, Bugis+, Plaza Singapura, Paradiz Centre
According to the ‘unofficial website of Sunshine Plaza’:
Near several bus stops located at Bencoolen Street, Fortune Centre, Middle Road, Opposite Prime Centre, Selegie Road, Peace Centure and After Prinsep Link. Bus services include: 56, 64, 65, 131, 139, 147, 166, 1N, 2N, 3N, 4N, 5N, 6N
Surrounded by four roads – Middle Road, Bencoolen Street, Prinsep Street and Prinsep Link
With some simple primary research;
*Estimations according to Google Maps
Easily Accessible from 5 MRT Stations
- Bencoolen MRT – 1 minute walk | 160m
- Rochor MRT – 6 minute walk | 500m
- Bras Basah MRT – 6 minute walk | 500m
- Dhoby Ghaut MRT – 8 minute walk | 650m
- Bugis MRT – 10 minute walk | 750m
Close to many tertiary campuses
- NAFA – 1 minute walk | 130m
- LASELLE – 6 minute walk | 500m
- SMU – 8 minute walk | 600m
- SOTA – 6 minute walk | 500m
Largest Printing Hub
According to TheBestSingapore, Sunshine Plaza is the “biggest printing hub with the largest number of printing shops in Singapore”.
Its ‘top four competitors’ are:
- Queensway Shopping Centre
- Shirts, jerseys, cards, documents, corporate gifts like mugs and caps
- Bras Basah Complex
- Posters, photos, documents, cards
- Peace Centre
- Documents, posters, cards, large sized printing
- Katong Shopping Centre
- Cards, marketing materials like pamphlets and brochures, documents
According to the ‘unofficial website’s’ online directory, there are a total of 16 printing shops (information is outdated, has to be corrected by primary research).
Also noted on the ‘unofficial website of Sunshine Plaza’ itself is:
According to Lady Iron Chef, the place is also ‘unknowingly known’ for its hidden eateries. These eateries include: Ichi Tei, Merely Ice Cream, Parklane Zha Yun Tun Mee House, Pepper Jade Thai Vegetarian Restaurant, Teng Bespoke Vegetarian Dining, Thai Gold Food, The Big Cheese, Victor’s Kitchen, Zenso.
Apart from Victor’s Kitchen that recently opened a new outlet at Chinatown Point in 2015, all other outlets are independent.
So the question that lies from here is:
What do people really patron Sunshine Plaza for?
PRIMARY RESEARCH & OBSERVATIONS
Online Survey #1
I conducted an online survey, targeted towards people have patronised Sunshine Plaza before, so as to find out what is/are the main reason(s) people patronise the site for.
These are what I have gathered as important from a total of 98 respondents.
Snapshot of Data Analysis
Print Shop Interviews #1 / Interview with Dion’s Mom
I also headed down to Sunshine Plaza to gather some information from the print shops themselves as their perspectives may show different results. I also conducted a short interview with my mom, as mentioned earlier happened to work with the real estate agency that was in charge of Sunshine Plaza when it was first built.
Print Shop Interview #2
As I only settled on the decision that the aspect that makes the site unique is the fact that it is known as the nation’s printing hub, I went back a second time to gather more information.
Unfortunately, I had gone down to the site a little bit too late on a Saturday afternoon and many of the printing shops were already closed. I only managed to get one interview from Dan Lim (the actual Dan Lim this time), although he did provide me with useful information, as well as make my own observations.
Thumbdrives: Online Survey/ Interview/ Observations
I was intrigued by the unique idea of lost thumbdrives at a print nation and decided to go further into detail about it.
Colourvizio’s (main store) Stash:
I told the staff that I think I had left my thumbdrive behind so that they would reveal their hidden stash.
Dan Lim’s Stash:
I asked Dan Lim if I could see his collection of thumbdrives after talking to him about how people always leave their thumbdrives behind, but he showed me a size comparison instead.
I sent out another online survey that had only 1 question:
If you have printed at Sunshine Plaza before, have you ever left your thumb drive behind? Yes/No
Results: 11 out of 124 respondents said YES to forgetting their thumbdrives
The number seems rather ‘big’, but the possibilities of having more ‘no’ answers would be higher if the survey was left out for a longer time.
What I concluded: If the probability of patrons leaving their thumbdrives behind is so low, and every single printing shop has their own huge stashes of forgotten thumbdrives, how long must it have taken for that many thumbdrives to be collected? A very long time.
Thumbdrive Thief: While talking to my friends about this thumbdrive situation, one of them told me that they actually often take a handful of thumbdrives from Sunshine Plaza for their own use!
Number of Shops
Seeing how useless the online and physical directories were, I decided to count the number of shops by myself. I originally counted the stores by interior and exterior, but because a lot of the shops overlap with their double entrances, I decided to just count them as a whole.
Leaving the store names aside, I concluded with:
Opening Hours: Most stores open Mondays-Fridays, close early on Saturdays, and are closed on Sundays and Public Holidays (always best to call to check).
Printing Services: Too many to count! (After taking 492138721 photos of lists)
- On average 2-5 large printers per shop
- Many huge cutting mats
- Huge paper cutters
- Fish tanks???
- Many many many computers, iMacs
It’s all silent, until you open the doors to the printing stores
- Non-stop printing
- Paper cutters
- Mouse clicking
- Mostly soft talking between customers and employees
- Sometimes dissatisfied customers *$^%#&!*$^
- Constant sitting and un-sitting on chairs/stools
- Some shops play ‘elevator music’, some play their own types of songs like Chinese songs
- Flailing of large papers and equipment around
- I guess it smells like a ‘typical office’ because all there is is air-conditioning and paper
Here, I decided to put an end to my research and filter the interesting parts out to create my presentation on what makes Sunshine Plaza unique.
Click here to see my final research presentation.