Truth be told, doing a writeup about this place was long overdue. But Tiendesitas has been a place that has been quite tricky for me to visit, even as I moved from west to east in which my location makes it a bit more advantageous for me to visit the place.
But during my few chance visits, the Urban Roamer bore witness to how this place has transformed from a unique concept into something that is now…well, just one of those typical commercial complexes that we see too much now in the metropolis. So when it was finally time for me to get down to writing about the place, it has become an unfamiliar place that I had to acquaint myself with again.
Before waxing further nostalgia, it is important to know a bit of history first so you can have a better idea of what this is all about.
The “Old” Tiendesitas
Tiendesitas was first opened to the public in 2005 as Ortigas & Company’s new commercial venture after having concentrated their energies for a long time in Greenhills Shopping Center. It is important to note that at the time of Tiendesitas’ opening, Greenhills Shopping Center was undergoing a renaissance as the public responded positively to the redevelopment that was going on. Thus, Tiendesitas was Ortigas & Company feeling a bit bold and ready go beyond Greenhills, so to speak.
As such, Tiendesitas borrowed a few elements from Greenhills in the process as it showcased Filipino furniture, antiques, arts, and handicrafts on sale, as well as affordable clothing. But it also strived to be its own. For one, the sections of the shopping were divided into “villages” in such a way that those who sell clothes are placed in the “Fashion Village”, antiques in the “Antique Village”, and so on.
Then there is the “Pet Village” which helped put Tiendesitas on the map. As one of the few places in the metropolis that has area dedicated to pet stores, not to mention the only one in this part of the metropolis, Tiendesitas became a spot for current and prospective pet owners alike.
And to give credit to Tiendesitas, there was an effort made to give the impression these are actual villages, Filipino-inspired at that. It blended modern commerce with Filipino/Southeast Asian architectural elements such as the roofing, design, and even the open air environment to create this unique shopping experience that is rare to see in this part of the metropolis.
It also helped that most of the shops located there were mostly small businesses that normally would struggle getting space in a shopping mall. Like Greenhills, Tiendesitas was a venue for these entrepreneurs to showcase their products in a more level playing field and no large stores that would cannibalize their revenues.
But despite its unique character and good word of mouth, the old Tiendesitas failed to make as much of an impact in the metropolis’ retail scene that Ortigas & Company expected it to be. Some say it’s because of its “isolated” location, some point to the dearth of public transportation options in the area, while others attribute the lack of commercial development in and around the area which would have supported Tiendesitas. Then there were those who pointed out that the open air environment was detrimental to shoppers who would like to shop in a cooler environment.
Because of this, there were initially plans to tear down Tiendesitas and replace it with a huge mall building in its place. Eventually, those plans were scuttled in of “redeveloping” the complex. And by “redeveloping”, it meant getting a radical facelift that did away its old identity in the process.
The “New” Tiendesitas
The redevelopment began in the 2010s and even at the time of this writing, it is still unfinished with some areas not yet open for . The environment of the old Tiendesitas is mostly gone now to make way for a large enclosed 3-building complex with airconditioning.
Some elements were kept like the roof designs and some areas were largely kept intact. As such, the Pet Village (or part of it, at least) seems to be one of the few, if not the only, “village” in Tiendesitas that survived the redevelopment. But for the most part, it became, sadly, just another shopping mall.
The redevelopment also meant the entry of some large retailers inside the complex itself, compared to before when large tenants (which were mostly restaurants) were located adjacent but not inside the complex. Though they have not overrun the complex yet and are not competing with the existing tenants (save perhaps for the restaurants), part of that old familiar feeling walking past those humble stalls seems to have been lost in the process.
To be fair though, there was a conscious effort to offer something unique or different. Two particular establishments in the “new” Tiendesitas stand out thus far: the Tom Sawyer’s Old Fashioned Chicken Restaurant for their crispy and delicious chicken and Decathlon for being probably the most complete sports and hobbies store one can find in the metropolis.
It must be noted though that these developments are just part of the larger activity going in the area where Tiendesitas is located. Ortigas & Company is pushing for the development of this area called Ortigas East to be a commercial hub, which we will be getting into at a later time.
But as mentioned earlier, the developments within Tiendesitas is still ongoing at this time of writing. How things will turn out is something the Urban Roamer will be watching out for. One thing is for sure though…the old Tiendesitas is surely missed.