Best for baking goods
If you're baking aficionado(or if you've ever had to hunt down uncommon ingredients for that recipe you're dying to try), Phoon Huat is the place to be for value-for-money baking supplies. The only occasional grouse shoppers have of this one-stop shop, which has outlets all over the island, is it's cramped aisles - but none of that will bother you at the Buona Vista branch, which proudly calls itself the largest in terms of floor space and range of products.
The wide, brightly lit corridors here are all jam-packed with anything you could ever want to fulfil your baking dreams. Looking for an ice cream maker? You'll finde it sitting next to a smoothie blender and a yogurt maker. In need of colourful edible flowers to prettify your cake? Choose from gum paste ones that come in the form of pastel-hied rose lilies,peonies,hydrangeas and more. Besides these, it's got everything from baking trays, wooden kueh moulds and lollipop sticks to pastes (like pineapple and double chocolate lotus), gluten-free cake mixes and silicone moulds.
Newbies can try the Ultimate Decorating Set ($278.20), which comes with a variety of 177 tools (including a fondant smoother, a dusting pouch and modelling sticks) - a handy way to kickstart your new hobby. Even if you're not a fan of sweet treats, there are rows after rows of recipe books, herbs, spices, nuts, pastas and savoury produce.With all this at your fingertips, it's baking made easy, just as Phoon Huat's slogan says.
Best for charming home decor
Homely, country-style furniture and decor is what Cluck Cluck does best. Set up in 2010 as a result of the owner's passion and desire to bring country living to cosmopolitan Singapore,the shop is filled to the brim with a lovingly sourced collection (from as low as $2) that includes pretty prints, cute figurines and lovely colours. It's a lot to take in, with cushions stacked atop one another and clocks covering the walls beside poster prints, so take your time to forage through the trove of hidden treasures.
Most items here are one-of-a-kind and handpicked from overseas suppliers (with regular weekly updates), but their slightly retro vibe stays the same. When we visited, there were the sweetest little vintage cupboards and jewellery boxes alongside coin pouches, towels and coasters in the shape of owls. Also in the selection are cookware and tableware such as delicate tea sets, dainty cake stands, table mats, aprons and more. Just adorbs.
Best for pre-loved designer bags
It's bags galore at madam Milan, which stocks second-hand luxury goods at budget prices - an eco-friendly way of staying in style. Established 14 years ago under a different name, the shop set up its Raffles Place branch in 2004, with more outlets at Tanjong pagar MRT and far East Plaza. luxury totes, handbags, clutches, sling bags, purses and even accessories feature here, from names such as Balenciaga, Celine, Chanel, Christian Dior, Ferragamo, Prada and Miu Miu - all at a 30 percent to 70 percent discount (you can also sell your goods).
Only one piece per design is usually offered, and you can look through the specs of each item online before heading down to the store - details such as its original boutique price, condition and its availability are stated on the site, along with any extras the product comes with, like an authenticity card or a dust bag. If you're too busy (or lazy) to scope out the space, simply browse the site, drop the store a call or an email, and its complimentary concierge service will deliver your purchase straight to your door.
Best for audio gadgets
Audiophiles, listen up. Taking over the space above Esplanade MRT since mid-2013, this classic-meets-modern electronics store (it also has an outlet in The Adelphi) offers a neatly stacked array of lifestyle audio-equipment that caters to analogue and digital music enthusiasts. A small but sleek selection of turntable systems, analogue amplifiers, speakers, headphones, old school cassette recorders and more deck the shelves of this niche showroom.
Most products go for the relatively modest price tag of under $1,000, with brands like Norstone, Elipson, Tangent and meridian to choose from. But what we particularly love about Audio bar is the whiff of nostalgia we get while perusing its vintage selection of vinyl records from the '70s and early '80s that includes local Mandarin and Cantonese pop music, as well as rock 'n' roll, soul and disco albums by classic musicians like Bread, The Carpenters and Diana Ross (from $15).
Best for beauty products
Ladies, ready your purse for a shopping spree at lunchtime, because you won't be able to resist these affordable makeup and skincare gems when they drop by your nearby MRT station (trust us, we speak from experience). Initially set up in 2010 as a distributor of cosmetics and nail polishes from popular American brands that were unavailable in Singapore, this local pop-up has since grown to partner SMRT, Watsons, John Little and Robinsons to offer beauty products at regular markets and distribute them to over 80 stores islandwide.
Not as mainstream as department stores, the brands featured here are among the likes of rdell, Coastal Scents, Red Cherry, Eco Tools, EOS, Essie, Queen Helene and E.L.F., with a sweeping selection of items including makeup brushes and tools, nail polishes in a dazzling array of shades and textures, eye shadow palettes, eyeliners and lip liners in vibrant colours, as well as face masks, lip balms, moisturisers and more from as low as $4.90. Just track the updates on Facebook (www.facebook.com/smoochiezzsprees) for info on upcoming events.
Best for bikes
From online to brick-and-mortar, this tiny bike shop has called Dhoby Xchange its home for about a year. The cosy space - it sits on a quiet row of restaurants, nail salons, photography studios and stores stocked with ladies' apparel - specialises in compact bikes (think lightweight, foldable ones). And you're more than welcome to test-drive the two-wheelers on Dhoby Ghaut Green (the grassy area above the station). Also keep an eye out for new products and brands after BikeActually undergoes a revamp within the next few months.