Unchanged since the day it opened its doors more than half a century ago, the Nightingale-Olympic department store is a genuine curiosity against Bangkok’s fast-growing luxurious and high-tech shopping complexes
By Morgan Thanarojpradit
CONSTRUCTED in 1966, the Nightingale-Olympic was the first department store in Bangkok. It was the talk-of-the-town and a clear sign of Bangkok’s up and coming retail scene. It employed over 100 staff and was the Central Embassy or Siam Paragon in its days.
The rustic concrete building towers above most surrounding shophouses, and one can only imagine how it used to be when it was unveiled 52 years ago while Bangkok was still surrounded mostly by small wooden houses and grasslands.
Today, it remains frozen in time and little, if any at all, has changed since its grand opening day. Once inside, the customers are greeted with the dimly lit atrium space. The stores are manned with quiet but friendly staff ladies who do not speak a word of English. The faded wallpapers, signages and the vintage mannequins show the wear and tear of time.
A row of rather vintage-retro sports equipment lined one wall of the ground floor while a vintage makeup table dominates the centre of the space. The second floor features a row of guitars and musical instruments on one side while boasting exercise equipment on the other.
Still able to draw in frequent visitors, the department store is in operation today. The Nightingale-Olympic department store opens Monday-Friday from 9am-5.30pm, 9am-6pm on Saturday and closes on Sunday. It might not be the place to look for modern gadgets, but for vintage-retro items, there might be some treasures to be found.
The department store is on Tri Phet Road, opposite from The Old Siam Shopping Plaza.
The Nightingale-Olympic Co., Ltd. 02 221 9773.