Move aside, Kinokuniya – this newsstand can trace its roots back to decades before the Japanese chain set foot in Singapore. Although Thambi Magazine Store in its current incarnation only came about in 1996, it started out in the ’40s, when third-generation and current owner Sam Thambi’s grandfather would deliver newspapers around Holland Village, at the time a kampong. Singapore was still under British rule, and it was Sam’s dad who started a shop hawking foreign magazines to the Brits living in the area. Even the war and Occupation weren’t enough to dent Thambi’s operations – unlike, perhaps, the digital revolution.
At its peak, the newsstand carried 7,000 titles from all around the world, now reduced to about 3,000. From the usual fashion glossies to the likes of Monocle – Sam brings in at least a hundred copies of the latter – you’d be hard-pressed to find a publication that Thambi doesn’t carry. Every topic, from architecture to automotive even to weekly gossip rags, is so well stocked that it puts your neighbourhood petrol kiosk’s newsstand to shame.