As early as 1888, Central Market Kuala Lumpur was set up by Yap Ah Loy, a Chinese Kapitan, for the locals to do trade involving wet goods. However, as time passed, Central Market has now evolved into one of the well-loved landmarks in Kuala Lumpur that depicts Malaysia’s multi-racial make up.
In 2004, realising the potential that the Central Market possesses in becoming a centre of local culture and arts among tourists and artists, Kha Seng Group took over the management of Central Market and
transformed it into a more structured and organised hub for culture and arts. The retail outlets in the building have been grouped into four major according to racial diversity in the country namely Lorong Melayu, Lorong Cina, Lorong India and Lorong Kelapa, solely dedicated to selling Malaysian traditional snacks.
Central Market has long been known as the centre for antique aficionados to come and hunt for collectible pieces. The antique shops stationed here have been around for over 20 years and they all keep items such as
sculptures, ornaments, relics, old weapons, jewelleries, toys and more that are bound to interest.
The antique shops also have been the meeting points for antique enthusiasts from all over the world to gather and exchange opinions with regard to the pieces they find. One of the antique shops called Kheng’s Antique and Collectibles is owned by Mr. Victor who started collecting the pieces since his teens. Mr. Victor showcases more than 10,000 vintage and almost-impossible-tofind pieces in his shop such as collectible cards, coins, cutleries, coffee sets, vases, seashells, bottles and more, some of them have aged over 100 years old.
Oftentimes, Mr. Victor is confronted about the real value of some of the pieces that he has in his shop by foreign tourists who have greater knowledge than him. Some of the items sold and displayed at Kheng’s Antiques and Collectible are valued as high as millions of ringgit.
An additional building called The Annexe has been built to support the demand of retail space here, occupied mostly by art lovers to showcase their impressive artworks. One eye-catching shop called Art House Gallery carries traditional items like jewelleries, clothing, accessories and weapons of the people of Borneo and Miao tribe in China.
All of the items displayed are mostly for sale but there are also a few items being put only for display due to the aesthetic value they carry. The owner, Mr. Leonard, has been travelling around Borneo and China to find the authentic pieces that are rare and exquisite. Most of the exhibited items at Art House Gallery are over 100 years old and require knowledge and expertise in maintaining them.
The newly opened Kasturi Walk is the centre stage for new talents to showcase their forte to the public. There are various performances scheduled here every night, featuring shows from indie bands to traditional music and dance for the public to enjoy. During the day, Kasturi Walk also serves as the Central Market extension where tourists could savour local tastes from the stalls and cafés that line up the place.
Offering more than 100,000 square feet of retail spaces, Central Market is painted with colours of culture and art, mirroring the harmony of the people of different races. Items like kebaya, songket, cheong-sam, saree and arrays of gastronomic choices are sure to delight all visitors to the place. Though Central Market is over 100 years old, it steadfastly remains as an institution that stays relevant in this day and age. It would not be surprising if Central Market were to remain relevant in the next 100 years…