If you want to experience a unique and remarkable shopping experience in Manila City, there is Divisoria for you—the ultimate shopping mecca in the National Capital Region of the Philippines where people come to look for a need, a want, or even for business materials, all at very reasonable prices. But if you happen to be in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Negrenses will readily direct you to go visit the popular Bacolod City Plaza Shopping Area, or what locals usually refer to as ‘Downtown,’ to meet your shopping needs, especially if you are looking for bargain finds.
For many years now, Downtown has been a go-to place for an average Negrense shopper. Products being sold around the area range from sidewalk fried chicken to ready-to-wear (RTW) products to fishing implements to general merchandise. With blocks of stores bound by several streets, the place is indeed like Divisoria, where shopping perfectly meets saving. Visitors or tourists who want to shop someplace else instead of going to the usual big malls can explore Bacolod City Plaza Shopping Area. Be ready to visit these Downtown stores where you can interact with the local shoppers and retailers and experience what shoppers’ call ‘Bacolod rush’:
Long before multi-operational shopping giants like Robinsons (1997), SM Prime Holdings (SM City Bacolod 2007), and the nearby, Talisay City-based, The District in Ayala North Point (2013) set foot in Bacolod, there was Lopue’s, established in 1945.
Lopue’s, which currently has two department stores located in the Plaza Shopping Area—Loupe’s San Sebastian and Lopue’s Araneta has since expanded not only in Bacolod. Lopue’s stores can now be found in seven cities and municipalities in Negros Occidental: Hinigaran, Kabankalan, La Carlota, Murcia, Sagay, Silay, and Victorias.
The Plaza Mart, which opened in 1965 and is considered one of the original shopping malls in Bacolod, is believed to be the first establishment in the city to have an escalator, which was a big deal back in the day. To date, Negrenses still flock to Plaza Mart that has been steadily serving their basic shopping needs.
Outside Plaza Mart is a wide array of clothes and shoes stores, save for some cellphone shops. Inside, aside from more ready-to-wear clothing and shoe stores, there are bridal shops, beauty parlors, optical clinics, stores selling wellness and herbal products, and photo studios. Plaza Mart also features a BINGO venue and a food court right at the second floor while the uppermost part of the building is composed mostly of consultancy and manpower offices.
Generally, in most large-scale shopping centers, your Php 1,000 can get you a pair of jeans. But in Lopue’s and Plaza Mart, as well as in most clothing stores in Bacolod City’s Downtown Area, your Php 1,000 can easily be an entire #OOTD-worthy ensemble.
For Php 1,000 ($ 22*), even if you aren’t ardent enough to shop and scour all the clothing stores in Downtown, ladies can get a decent pair of denim jeans, a pair of ballerina-inspired flats, an off-shoulder top, and accessories or a shoulder bag.
For men, meanwhile, Php 1,000 is good for a pair of shorts, a casual short-sleeved cotton shirt, and a pair of boat shoes or classic sneakers.
Items can also be bought at wholesale prices in Downtown. In an RTW store called Corona, which has two branches in the downtown area, one just a few meters away from Plaza Mart, and the other located at the Centroplex Building, loyal shoppers and cardholders can get discounts and rewards for a single purchase receipt worth Php 1,000 and above. The price of a pair of jeans for women can get as low as Php 195 ($ 4.24) while hoodies can be bought for Php 200 ($ 4.35).
ChinaMart, one of the frequently-visited stores in Downtown which is right across the Central Market, is unarguably where the cheapest school and office supplies in Bacolod City can be bought from.
The mart has continued to thrive for several years now, spanning from the time when photos of local tween love teams from the 90s served as cover for notebooks to now when cartoon and superhero characters dominate visually-appealing school supplies for both kids and teens.
Locals who wish to save on their shopping also frequent the Downtown Area to get affordable household and utility items from soup ladles to umbrellas. Umbrellas for kids can get as cheap as Php 65 ($ 1.41) at Limman’s, a general merchandising store across the old city hall. A sturdy, automatic umbrella costs around Php 215 ($ 4.67), a practical find when one visits the city without an umbrella and it suddenly rains.
At the Central Market, meanwhile, several homecoming-worthy items are at reasonable prices. Native products such as home decors made of Abaca and Capiz Shell Crafts are sold here. People who are into thrift items can also find gems in several bargains stores and makeshift stalls by the Central Market.
Nearby is at the Lace Center and other similar stores where those who have a penchant for making keepsakes can purchase raw materials such as ribbons, feathers, and other DIY materials.
Extra precaution is advised when going around Downtown area in general. While it is generally safe inside shopping malls around the Plaza, the sidewalks are not safe for public display of mobile phones and other gadgets. It is even rather impractical for most people to wear expensive accessories when shopping (or window shopping) around the place.
How to get there:
Most of the routes of the jeepneys include passing by Downtown Bacolod. From Bacolod North Terminal, Bata-Mandalagan and Bata-Libertad jeepneys usually pass by Plaza Mart. It is best to ask the jeepney driver first if it’s bound for Plaza Mart or SM City Bacolod.
* $ 1 = Php 46.75
** prices are subject to change without prior notice