Those who don’t feel like they’ve handed enough over to Thailand’s largest family-owned retail conglomerate have a new place to do so at a shophouse in Bangkok’s old town, where its empire began exactly seven decades ago.
Central: The Original Store, a five-story shophouse at No. 1266 on Charoen Krung Road, was the first property owned 70 years ago by what later became Central Group has been renovated and opened to the public to pay homage to Central’s origins and its founding father, Tiang Chirathivat.
Each floor serves a different function. The first has the Siwilai Cafe and so-called music bar Siwilai Sound Club, while the second floor operates as a “retail library” (though we’re not sure what that means, the original building sold English-language books). The third and fourth floors are for events and exhibitions, while the top story sees a restaurant named Krua Aksorn.
The renovation was designed by Belgian architect Vincent Van Duysen.
The shophouse’s history began July 5, 1950, when Tiang, a Chinese immigrant from Hainan, opened the Central Trading Co., Ltd.’s first store there. His son later expanded the merchandising business into department stores. Today, the Chirathivat family (Thailand’s #4 wealthiest, sayeth the Forbes) owns more than 60 department stores and shopping malls nationwide, plus hotels and restaurants adding up to 5,000+ venues.
Central: The Original Store is located at 1266 Charoen Krung Road near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. For now, operating hours vary by facility: Siwilai Cafe 8:30am-6pm, Wednesday to Sunday; Siwilai Sound Club 6pm-1am, Wednesday to Sunday; Retail Library 11am-7pm, Wednesday to Sunday; Krua Aksorn 6:30pm-midnight, Wednesday to Sunday. More details are available online.
Central: The Original Store
1266 Charoen Krung Road, Bang Rak
Wednesday to Sunday
BTS Saphan Taksin