Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow


Have you been to the Perak Emporium? Was it one of those high-end places like Whiteaway Laidlaw? Did it have an escalator/elevator? We’ve had Readers talking about this place, now we’d like to know MORE 😉


Picture courtesy of Stex Stev.

  1. kcwai says:

    i don’t remember it as high-end, but i like it for the ICEE ice-blend machine they have right at the entrance (if my memory didn’t fail me). don’t think there was an escalator…i remember climbing up the stairs.

  2. Mak says:

    It used to be a must-visit place for many Ipohites those days especially during the night. It had a night market opened nightly just right in front of it. I frequent the Emporium each time I went to Ipoh with my fiancee then and finished the night out with a bowl of pork gut porridge which is also located right opposite the entrance of the emporium.

    • Jeannette says:

      Thanks for your words. Same memories I have. Except upstairs used to be an old cinema. Or was the Emporium after the cinema was axed? And the chee chup chook was under the huge billboard.

  3. Soonny says:

    I remember there were 2 Perak Emporium in Ipoh. One was at Jalan Laxamana and the other was at Ipoh Garden Plaza (Ipoh Garden South)…I was working there part-time at Ipoh Garden Perak Emporium in 1986…..

  4. Soonny says:

    I remember there were 2 Perak Emporium in Ipoh. One was at Jalan Laxamana and the other was at Ipoh Garden Plaza (Ipoh Garden South)…I was working there part-time at Ipoh Garden Perak Emporium in 1986…..

  5. StexStev says:

    Yes.. the ice cream cone shop at the corner of Yee Lock Restaurant.. I also like the cream profiteroles puff at the entrance of the Emporium..

  6. AARON ONG says:

    I remember there were 2 Perak Emporium in Ipoh. One was at Jalan Laxamana and the other was at Ipoh Garden Plaza (Ipoh Garden South)…I was working there part-time at Ipoh Garden Perak Emporium in 1986…..

    Doubt so. That was Metrojaya, I believe.

  7. KC Choo says:

    I remember the left hand corner of the entrance was the place where they sell cartridges & cassettes. One of those cassettes cost RM 1.90 at that time in 1981/2.

  8. Raymond Hew says:

    Yes…fully aircond. ..and it had a back door exit that lead to some shop selling bags, shoes, etc at the side of this emporium. I remember shoppers went there for toilet paper rush because they had constantly offer purchase with purchase with almost free toilet paper in return.

  9. Liz Olver says:

    Born in Ipoh but schooled abroad, it was great to come home to Ipoh and Perak Emporium was great for Christmas shopping! The picture of the bags with its distinctive graphics really brings back memories not only of the Emporium but the open air food & groceries market opposite.

  10. kcwai says:

    since somebody mentioned it, now i remember the ice-cream in a cone sold by the shop next to the Emporium. during the weekend morning a market will be set up along the road in front of the entrance. i distinctly remember a guy selling very old stuff laid out on a mat on the road right at corner of the Emporium entrance, with many black-and-white photos of the famous Rose Chan in the nude.

  11. coketai says:

    My memory of Ipoh Emporium was my first “Stapler”was bought from the stationary session of the Emporium.I walked all the way down from Hugh Low Street. It was lovely memory but I don’t have much to recall!!

  12. Stex Stev says:

    As a kid, I used to frequent the tuck shop at the right corner of Emporium (next to the lane-way) that to buy “mo-far-kor”. And you can also find this small tube of liquid gel-like substance with a small straw. The tube is made of lead. Kids used to squeeze out the gel unto the tip of the straw and blow into the other end of the straw. You’ll get a colourful transparent balloon…

  13. thunderchild says:

    There was also another much smaller emporium called Ipoh Emporium in Cowan Street, at the junction with Leong Sin Nam Street. Anyone remember that?

  14. AARON ONG says:

    Perak Emporium was dealt the death knell when Super Kinta opened its door just in front of it.

    Yes its true. Perak Emporium languished in the late 80’s and finally closed shop possibly in 90. At the time Super K was the undisputed king of shopping centres in Ipoh until Ipoh Parade opened in the mid 90s, followed by Jusco in 98 (?)

  15. AARON ONG says:

    There was also another much smaller emporium called Ipoh Emporium in Cowan Street, at the junction with Leong Sin Nam Street. Anyone remember that?

    Yes I remember this Ipoh emporium. It sits right next to the current bridal company which occupies the corner lot. Ipoh emporium was a one three-storey shoplot affair. I cannot remember much about it except that it probably closed in the early 80s.

  16. kcwai says:

    Perak Emporium was bought over by the Parkson group and became Parkson Ria for a while before the whole Lam Looking Bazaar building was closed down in either mid or late 90s.

    • Dannie says:

      Splim, yes, yes, I remember that. Beauty Supermarket with 4 or 5 floors. It has been converted to something else now 2013. Also Cresendo building is still there but it is another retail store now.

  17. felicia says:

    Stex Stev, I do recall the “colourful transparent balloon” you mentioned. It’s quite rare now, but if you look hard enough you can still find them in the shops 😉
    My cousins and I loved playing with those balloons. Sometimes we’d each blow one (as big as they can get) and join them together to form funny shapes!

  18. sk says:

    Yes, I do remember the transparent balloon.
    Usually the girls blow with it.
    To play with every drop, they rolled up the tube
    & opened the back end to squeeze the liquid.
    It was smelly, though & pink in colour.
    I wonder if it is a banned liquid gel as it smelt toxic.

  19. sk says:

    I dunno, Mano. Ignorance is bliss.
    Any research done on this?
    Can you remember the company.
    As a living specimen ( ahem…. excuse the pun ) to tell your tale , I presume its safe ?

  20. AARON ONG says:

    Beauty & Crescendo was my regular hangout before Angel (now Kamdar) and Super Kinta was built. What’s more, they are just spitting distance from where I live. Like many other shopping centres, they each follow the ebb and flow of the times and they later shut down for one reason or another.

    Beauty finally became the Hai O, but prior to that Popular book was occupying the upper floors for a short time (possibly still is).

    Cresendo became Bersatu and later, I think, The Store. Now occupied by a tertiary institution whose name escapes me.

  21. Cy says:

    How about a lesson on the history of book stores in Ipoh. Ipoh is lacking in good well stocked book stores; no Borders, no MPH, no Kinokuniya. There was a very well stocked Times book store at Sri Kinta building at one time (early 80s?) but closed after a while. There are only some small independent book stores such as Mubarak in old town and the old Chinese book shops. To promote reading in Ipoh we need good book stores.

  22. felicia says:

    Hi CY. we do have an MPH book shop – in Aeon (formerly Jusco, Kinta City). I remember Times, but I never did get a chance to visit the store.

  23. rosebud says:

    Is James Book store still around? In mid 60s he started small by occupying a half shop at Belfield St. The owner was a friendly & soft spoken Indian man.His shop was well stocked with the latest comics, magazines & school reference books & I was a frequent customer of his.Later he prospered & opened a full shop nearby. In the 70s his shop burnt down but he picked himself up & opened another. Hows that for resilience.

  24. Cy says:

    felicia, thanks. It only shows that I have been away from Ipoh for too long. I moved away from Ipoh since 1997. During the 50s and 60s we used to do our home work in exercise books printed by a book shop in old town call Rajan & Co. The times tables were printed at the back of the exercise books. In those days before electronic calculators all primary school children are required to memorise the times tables.

  25. kcwai says:

    speaking of book stores, i remember there was a Times shop in a corner shoplot right behind the Ipoh Garden Plaza. there’s a Christian book store at Jln Dato Sagor…not sure if it’s still there. we got almost all of our school related books from Mubarak in old town. for chinese books, magazines, comics…i remember those long stalls along Jln Raja Musa Aziz (can’t remember the old name) near to the now-gone cinema.

  26. AARON ONG says:

    QUOTE by CY
    … well stocked Times book store at Sri Kinta building at one time (early 80s?) …

    That was the BBC – short for Berita Book Centre. Its beautiful logo is a butterfly’s wings in plan view. It started 1982 or 83 just after the Bangunan Sri Kinta was built, probably lasted maybe 5 years tops.

  27. AARON ONG says:

    Perak Emporium was bought over by the Parkson group and became Parkson Ria for a while before the whole Lam Looking Bazaar building was closed down in either mid or late 90s.

    Do not forget there was also the fire that gutted out the building.

  28. Dannie says:

    I used to live in the same building occupied by Perak Emporium with my grandma and uncles and aunties. There were like at least 12 – 15 other families there. Also, there is a ‘courtyard’ where we kids from other families play together.

    Used to listen to stories from grandma and aunties saying that during the Japanese occupation, how they used to go to the Kinta river just by the side to wash clothes and clean up. I am a 70’s kid by the way.

    Unfortunately, Perak Emporium is no more now. It was burnt down in around 2008 or so. Now it is rebuilt in to something else.

  29. tk says:

    Memories came flooding back having read your posts and the distinct label.

    I wonder if we met before, Dannie, since I spent my childhood in Lam Look King till I was 10 in the early 80’s. Didn’t spend the nights there but my mom used to operate a shop there until taken over by my uncle. So my weekdays were spent loitering the shops, Perak Emporium, its loading bay and the ‘courtyard’ along with kids of other families who actually lived there.

    I remember the girl living in the unit behind the side door of Emporium having speech difficulty with amazing gift in drawing.

    Yes the section right after main entrance displayed cassettes and there were watches and high-value items in the glass cabinets. There was a water bed displayed near the side entrance at one time – a novelty to most Ipohans then. The tuck shop was almost my daily destination – 2 Hacks candy drops or a piece of white chalk at 5 cents, besides mo fa koh and gel balloon.

    I could only dream of affording more books from Times but settled with comics from 陳蝦 instead.

    Crescendo, Angel, Beauty came and went, so did Kwong Fatt, Dai Yat and Glory (inside Yik Foong).

  30. chu says:

    Wa!Recall all my memories!My auntie mee and fish ball stall
    oppesit the beauty emporium,the shop call Hup Kee coffee shop
    !!and next Beauty Emporium is Rex Cinema!

  31. Chuah TC says:

    There was another bookshop, I think it was MPH, at the now McDonalds back in the early 80s, when Cold Storage moved to Ipoh Garden East. It occupied just the ground floor. They have quite a good collection but there were not many customers as I recall.

    The top floor was where Sunshine Bread’s bakery used to be.

  32. David Cheng says:

    I used to be an Ipoh old town kid in the ’60s. Before it was James Book Store, it’s “Bestway” Book Store in the ’60s, the corner shop. I remember going there for my dose of Beano & Dandy comics. Later, probably early ’70s came James. Now the lot occupied by ‘Milk Cow’ the Korean ice-cream chain.

  33. Merrill Leong says:

    My dad was an avid reader and used to, in the 50s and 60s, bring us around the various Ipoh book shops (albeit small ones in those days) to browse. One of his favourites was the one inside the railway station.

    Favourite reading materials were of course the comics, and these were never in short supply… Beano, Dandy, Topper, Beezer, Tiger and Hurricane, Valiant, Jack and Jill, Bimbo (for kids, mind you), DC comics like Superman and Green Lantern, etc., Marvel comics like Spiderman, and of course the British war comics where Battler Britain and Spy 13 almost won the war by themselves.

    • Merrill Leong says:

      Hi Felicia, Commando comix were those small black and white publications featuring WW2 exploits, right? If so, I was blessed with tons of them. In fact I still have a few of them somewhere in the store room. I think I’ll dig them out and have a nostalgic afternoon browsing through them, as I do occasionally with my collection of MAD magazines.

      As a school kid, I had picked up the reading habit as an extension to comix reading. That’s why I think teachers who confiscated comix thinking they lead to bad English were being foolish. On one hand we are told that a picture is worth a thousand words, and they this ban on comix in schools!

      One of my favourite reads were from the library shelves of my alma mater… the William series by Richmal Crompton, about the antics of an English schoolboy of the 1940s and 50s. Needless to say, Enid Blyton was always good reading. Who can forget the Famous Five and the Secret Seven?

    • Merrill Leong says:

      Felicia, yup got some of these! Read many of them in the past.

      Thanks for directing me to the thread on Commando. I will stop contributing to this thread and direct future comments on comix to the Commando one. Great to know that there are so many old comix fans in Ipohworld.


  34. Ipoh Remembered says:


    Until recently I believed that the [Perak] Emporium was one of the original outlets, but it was in fact only established post war and maybe as late as the late 1960′s.

    Later than that: it opened for business in 1972.

    The story begins with the Lim brothers: Teen-ager Tow Seng, who came from eastern Canton to Singapore in 1935, and younger brother Tow Yong, who arrived in 1940 (after the Japanese had invaded his home-town).

    In Singapore, Tow Seng soon founded his own business and when Tow Yong arrived, he joined the company. Their focus at the time was the import (from China), manufacture (in Singapore), and sale (in Singapore) of low-cost garments. (ika: By e-mail I’ve sent you an image showing an advertisement they published in the ’60s.)

    In the mid-’60s, the brothers created a new entity called Emporium Holdings which immediately began building its chain of “one-stop shopping” department stores. The first one, at Raffles Place in Singapore, was called the Oriental Emporium. Growth was explosive. Within two years they had opened stores as far away as Penang, and soon they were building restaurants as well. As I said above, by 1972, they had opened an emporium in Ipoh; and three years later there was another one in Kampar.

    About their Ipoh location:

    As well as the Emporium there were retail shops at street level

    Actually, when the Lims opened their Emporium in Ipoh’s Lam Looking Building in 1972, it occupied the ground floor and first floor. The second floor was left unused until it was needed a short time later.

    In all, Emporium Holdings spent about a quarter of a million dollars on renovations before moving in.

    And then there were twelve good years, but then the end came.

    A severe recession in the mid-’80s brought things to a crashing halt. Emporium Holdings, now cash-poor, spent a year flailing around in vain seeking new investors. Its Singapore business was “rescued” by millionaire architect Bill Ch’ng (who quickly enough got himself into deep trouble with the law, and more than once, but that’s another story).

    Whereas the Lims’ Malaysian operations were liquidated in ’87 by Peat Marwick. The price: $12 million. The value: more than ten times that (if the business were to be created anew).

    And the buyer: Amalgamated Steel Mills, a division of the Cheng family’s Lion Group, eventual proprietor of the Parade, Parkson Grand and Parkson Ria brands as well as Xtra and the lower-budget Payless.


    As for the Lim brothers with whom we began the story: Tow Seng died in 1991; whereas Tow Yong died just five years ago — after picking himself up out of bankruptcy, starting over in Sabah and Brunei, and making another fortune for himself and his family.


    [Some of the comments I responded to above were taken from a different page, “Hugh Low Street (Jalan Sultan Iskandar) in the 80s”]

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