The $10 million Sorya shopping center near Phsar Thmei opened for business Saturday—attracting curious teen-agers to wonder at Cambodia’s first working public escalators.
“I’ve come here for three days with my friends just to ride up and down the escalator,” said Yeth Colketya, 16, a student at Santhormuk High School. “It’s fun!”
The newly renovated Pochentong Airport, which opened last month, also boasts escalators, but they are available only to those who can afford to fly. Phsar Olympic had working escalators for a short period in 1999, but they have since broken and have never been fixed.
The towering, six-story, blue-domed mall will hold its official opening in January or early February, Shopping Center Sorya Ltd general manager MK Ng said Monday. Already, 70 percent of the center’s 600 shop spaces have been leased to vendors and companies, he said. On Monday, about 10 percent to 20 percent of the stores appeared to be open.
The center will employ 100 trained security guards and about 200 employees, MK Ng said.
Five students excitedly exploring the center on Monday said they are looking forward to having a new place to hang out with friends after classes. “It’s huge, it’s new, there’s a lot to see,” said Lim Chanchive Neang, 17, also a student at Santhormuk.
Stuart Loke, a consultant to the shopping center, said he expects the mall to become a popular attraction. “Our business here is to show confidence in Cambodia’s future economic growth,” he said.
Loke said he expected low- to medium-income Cambodians to come to the center—not just to buy goods, but also to dine and attend concerts, fashion shows, traditional dancing and children’s events.
The center’s prices will be close to those offered at the city’s markets, he said. One clothing vendor, however, said the $600 monthly rent for her stall will make it difficult to offer cheap prices. But Srey Mech, 24, said she has high hopes for her business. “I believe this is the right place to sell clothes because this whole floor is full of clothing shops,” she said.
At nearby Phsar Thmei, vendors said they weren’t worried about losing business but would also have to compete with the new, modern mall. “I will give discounts to my clients to keep them with me. Otherwise they’ll go to the new place,” dishware vendor Suon Ly Kang, 45, said.