Today is the day – Eastland Ringwood has it’s grand opening day. After being somewhat of a ‘meh’ shopping centre, with not much to offer and a bit of a bad rep as to be where the bogans hang (maybe due to the train station, not sure)… it was good to see firsthand the new face lift on pretty much 80% of the building. I can say that I was pretty impressed with the place.
What really made this new Eastland special, was that it has some specialised retailers that you can only get in the city – H&M, Mecca Maxima, and makes the Eastern burbs more attractive to be living in. Also, it’s new roof level alfresco restaurant area really drew my attention. The open, relaxed area filled with new restaurants that I would love to try looks very promising. Reminds me of what Harbourtown could have been… Hmmm…
Exciting things for Eastland, but on its ‘Grand Opening’ Day, you could see that they were clearly struggling to get it to a decent crowd-receiving standard. Floors were construction dirty, unpolished, many stores outside were still closed and under construction, the car parking areas were largely blocked off due to construction. I spent 20 minutes after arriving at one of the entry points on Ringwood Street, literally going from parking entry to parking entry finding that the right turns into the centre were blocked off. No right turns at all. Traffic was atrocious. Went all the way around, down Ringwood Street, along the Ringwood Bypass, and onto Warrandyte Road, no entries right up until the last parking entry point closest to Maroondah Hwy where two large construction trucks blocked half the entering traffic into the centre. Grand Opening Day traffic control was not up to standard at all. It was ridiculous. Management needs to get onto that… or was anyone thinking about that at all?
I did a quick visit of about 1.5hrs and walked majority of the centre. Here is a quick low down on some of the big players at the new Eastland SC.
H&M ~ Excited that the suburbians now do not need to travel all the way into the city at QVB (and line up, last time I was there) to shop at H&M. They had all these bollards ready to receive the ‘crowds’ lining and were ready to be inundated with crazy excited shoppers, but pretty much didn’t use them, as there was a line of about 10 people, then none for the rest of the time. Inside the store was nice, and the expanse of the store was a bit mind boggling, by Australian standards. Only one floor, and this includes the H&M home section, which I can safely say, is one of my favourite areas. Demographic buying up big when I was in there was teenage, university females, and mothers and grandmothers. Obviously it was a working day, so probably more evenly spread in the evenings and weekends.
Mecca Maxima ~ First time in this store, ever. TBH, it is just like another version of Sephora? Correct me if I’m wrong, but it feels almost exactly the same. Anyway, quite crowded, they were handing out Mecca branded water and lollipops. Happy to see that Urban Decay, Hourglass, Too faced, Bare Minerals and Soap & Glory are finally readily available in the burbs too. Or, as some would argue, available in Melbourne in general. Exciting times.
Uniqlo ~ Went in for my brother’s benefit. It’s only 1 floor as well, but dare I say, bigger than Chadstone? Nicely set out, more spacious than the one in Chadstone, and with higher ceilings. Weirdly enough, wasn’t greeted to the same extent as the Emporium and Chadstone stores. Not one staff member said ‘Welcome to Uniqlo’. Maybe that has changed? Not sure. There were some ‘opening day’ specials, but not many.
Target ~ As impressive as the new one in Chadstone. Also has the T-shirt printing facility and Target Cafe. They were making free coffees, handing out balloons and had face painting today too.
Oroton ~ Impressive large store. Didn’t see much else.
Harris Scarfe ~ New, more spacious and better set out store. Hope it lasts, and spells a greater future for this struggling store.
MRP ~ New clothing store that is affordable. Never seen this brand before. Bit of a mix between Temt, Supre, Cotton on and Kmart? I guess. They had a live DJ playing outside their store.
Outdoor Alfresco area has the much anticipated Huxtaburger (which was closed and under renovations today), Hunky Dory (burgers and fish?), Robinsons bookstore – which I love!, Ang Ang (modern asian), Pacos Tacos (mexican), The Cellar Door (australian – looked interesting), Hunter & Barrel (bar – which was packed) and a new Gelati place (forgot the name…). Many others weren’t open so I didn’t check them out. But this whole area leads straight over the road from the Ringwood train station.
The ‘older’ section of Eastland was definitely quieter (near Kmart area). To be honest, my impression of the previous Eastland was pretty bad. Once the floors are polished, the rest of the shops and restaurants are open, the traffic and parking is sorted, it will be a really great place to shop. But for now, unless you are desperate for H&M or Mecca Maxima, don’t bother until the place is completely done, parking is fully functional and, the floors are cleaned.