At some point along the way, you’ve needed a new sofa. Chances are that during your hunt for the perfect living room statement piece you pounded the proverbial pavement at Horizon Plaza, the Ap Lei Chau super-warehouse with 28 floors of indoor and outdoor furniture, accessories, window coverings, wall dressings, linens and everything you could need for the home. Of course, a trek to Ap Lei Chau is a day-long ordeal in itself. It’s particularly gruelling if you live in Kowloon or the New Territories.
Enter HomeSquare, the brainchild of Sun Hung Kai Properties. Perched just a few steps from Sha Tin MTR station, what HomeSquare as a shopping centre lacks in storeys — it’s just five — it more than makes up for in vision. With a mandate for both local and international brands and products, a range of price points and a largely comfortable, intuitive shopping experience, southerners may soon be heading up there for sheets and ottomans. An added bonus? When you leave HomeSquare you walk out into a well developed district with scads of other retail and food options. It’s not desolate Lee Nam Road.
It should come as no surprise that a developer opted to construct a themed mall. The latest trend in retail construction is indeed cluster shopping in malls that focus on one specific item, price point or even consumer. “If you’re buying a multi-thousand dollar handbag you don’t want to walk through the Gap to get to the store you’re going to. Vice-versa, if you’re a teenager with $100 to spend on an outfit you’re going to the fast fashion store and there’s no point in having [to] parade past Gucci and Prada,” explains Adam Cook, Asia-Pacific retail lead for Jones Lang LaSalle. By the same token, on a hunt for venetian blinds, shoppers don’t always want to waste their time navigating cosmetics and shoes.
There’s something for everyone and every need at HomeSquare. Like most malls, HomeSquare is anchored by one superstore, in this case stalwart IKEA on the top two floors. The rest of the stores are a mixed bag — but a pleasantly mixed one, broken down into bedding and curtains, interior design, kitchen supply, lighting and appliances, home furnishing and children’s products. Aside from the expected retailers like Indigo Living, Kartell, German Pool, the Big Three mattress manufacturers (Sealy, Serta and Simmons) and Franc Franc, there are dozens of specialty boutiques representing both local and international suppliers. There is no lipstick to be found. The immediate argument is that it is indeed just like Horizon Plaza. It may be in spirit, but in execution HomeSquare is quite different. There are also no industrial corridors and long waits for crammed elevators.
“The other trend that you see [in mall design] is way more common areas and amenities, and a mix of food and beverage,” adds Cook. Sure enough all of the shopping is complemented with a handful of roomy food and beverage outlets, including a Pacific Coffee for when a jolt of caffeine is desperately needed. Indeed, HomeSquare has several nursery stations, baby trolley lending, a large atrium that maximises natural light (the 350,000-square foot building was designed by local architect Barry Ho), scads of modern conveniences from WiFi to phone charging and a concierge among others. Makes pounding the pavement a lot more appealing.