HERITAGE: Taib asks traders to reach out to young consumers
KUCHING: TWENTY years ago, India Street, during its heyday was home to Indian textile merchants and was converted into a pedestrian mall.
Soon, the 165-year-old heritage street will be turned into a covered pedestrian mall.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has announced RM1 million for the conversion. Taib said the roof over the mall would make shopping in one of the most popular shopping malls in the city even more conducive.
While giving businesses there a helping hand, Taib, at the same time, has also thrown a challenge to the business operators in the mall.
“Show me how you plan to lure our young people to this part of the city and patronise your businesses.
“You cannot stay stagnant with your current business model and depend on the old customers for business,” said Taib at the anniversary dinner of India Street’s 165th and India Street pedestrian mall’s 20th anniversary dinner.
Taib said young consumers shied away from shops in the old parts of the city because of their changing tastes and lifestyle.
He was referring to not only India Sreet, but also adjacent areas like Carpenter Street, which, in the old days, housed carpenters and furniture makers, Gambir Street where the spice traders are, and Jalan Khoo Hun Yeang and Chia Street where most of the city’s photo studios used to be.
Taib said he gave approval for a modern shopping mall to be built nearby at Jalan Barrack — the Merdeka Plaza — to draw city folk back to that part of the city.
“The mall (plaza) will attract both young shoppers and tourists alike who we hope would start to frequent the old shops.”
Taib also said that the government’s recent city redevelopment plan would beautify the old Kuching. This included shifting the fish and vegetable markets and demolishing the unsightly markets to “create a scenic river view”.
“It is also to give city folk a place to have an enjoyable stroll by the Sarawak River.
“You must try to think very deeply (of the challenge).”