Oriental Plaza, Fordsburg, Johannesburg

Oriental Plaza Image source

Indoor bazaar with shops selling bargains from clothing to home-ware to spices, plus food stalls. Established in the Johannesburg suburb of Fordsburg in the mid-1970s, when Indian traders from the vibrant 14th Street shopping precinct in the nearby racially mixed suburb of Fietas were forced to vacate their shops under the apartheid government’s Group Areas Act. Those who could afford it, purchased retail space at the newly built Oriental Plaza.
Today, the Oriental Plaza is a colourful and busy shopping centre which draws huge numbers of bargain hunters from across Johannesburg. There are some 360 shops selling a wide variety of goods from traditional Indian saris and colourful south-Asian fabrics to curtains, linen, accessories and home-ware.
The Oriental Plaza is unique among South African shopping centres as each store is owned by the shopkeeper. Without the burden of mall rentals, retailers are able to offer discounted prices, and the centre has gained a reputation as a place where shoppers and shopkeepers bargain hard to get the best deal. Small business owners and flea market operators replenish their stocks at the Oriental Plaza, buying quality brands at almost half the price these goods fetch at other shops; gift-hunters trawl the stores in search of the perfect present; and local shoppers queue for the the best bargains on everyday and special occasion items.
A trip to the Oriental Plaza is a sensory experience with spicy flavours and aromas, rich colours and textures, and a flurry of shopping activity.
Admission is Free.
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Last updated : 15-Mar-2019

This article was produced by South African History Online on 15-Mar-2019

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