Since I lived on the Tygerberg Hospital campus for approximately one month, I became a frequent visitor to the Parow Centre for shopping (it’s just next door to the Tygerberg train station). I watched movies, visited shops, picked up groceries, and enjoyed better food than I could prepare at my temporary lodgings. As I mentioned in my post about Parow Centre, though, I was conscious that it is not a mall where the white population frequently appears. When I moved to Turtle House last Sunday, Parow Centre was no longer the most convenient mall to visit. Now that I’m halfway to Durbanville [note that this history has a rather unusual slant], Tyger Valley Shopping Centre is the nearest; in fact, I drive by it on my commute!
If you are accustomed to United States malls, Tyger Valley will feel like a taste of home. All the basics are here, from electronic gadget shops to a food court. The picture at the top of this article shows the central well of four levels. [Note: I acquired these photos on a 2MP Vodacom VF685 smartphone to avoid annoying shoppers. Yes, they’re blurry.] In practice, most mall shopping falls on two main levels. The bottom level seems to host seasonal attractions, like the Santa Claus land at Christmastime.
The restaurants at the food court cater to many tastes. The Native American-themed Alamo Spur Restaurant appears on the top floor; it’s a sit-down restaurant for everything from seafood to steaks. Of course you can eat at Burger King or McDonald’s. The Ocean Basket has a large restaurant here. Last week I discovered the yummy chicken and rice plate at Nando’s. On my first solo visit to the mall, I ate shawarma at Anat. I did not expect to find KFC in Cape Town, but their restaurants are everywhere. They entered the market here in 1971, but they were forced to divest their restaurants in 1987 to external control due to U.S. laws opposing Apartheid.
Sometimes, I just need a burger. Ever since my first visit to South Africa in 2014, I have been a fan of the Wimpy restaurants. Although the menu is not so different from that of a McDonald’s or Burger King, this is a sit-down restaurant. A server comes to your table to accept your order. You get a ceramic plate, with a metal knife and fork. It all feels just a bit more… civilized than fast food, even if the food offered is essentially the same.
I’ve already reported that different malls see different racial groups among their shoppers, and one can ask further if the offerings of the mall change in response. Absolutely. Parow does offer a couple of jewelry shops, but it has nothing like the high-end stores of Tyger Valley. If you feel the need to spend a couple hundred dollars on a watch, Tyger Valley is ready to offer you a wide variety of options. The boutique clothing stores are everywhere. The prices also reflect the different clientele. To watch a 2D movie at Parow will cost 38 Rand. At Tyger Valley, the same chain of theaters will cost you 66 Rand (just under $4 USD). You can buy very nice things at Tyger Valley, but you are likely to spend more, too.
In the United States, we generally expect our grocery stores to be separate from the big malls, but both Parow and Tyger Valley Shopping Centres feature substantial grocery stores (Checkers in the case of Parow and Pick n Pay at Tyger Valley). Other stores, such as Woolworth’s, also offer grocery sections. Pick n Pay is positioned much like Walmart in the United States. At Tyger Valley, they also have another storefront specific to clothing.
Many people know I am a die-hard board gamer, and I am pleased to report that popular board games are available here, as well. This photo was taken at Toy Kingdom, which appears on the right of the photo at the top of this post. You may not know this, but economists sometimes ask how purchasing power compares among nations based on the price of the McDonald’s Big Mac meal. We can do the same with board games. Because they are not produced locally, though, the index might tell us more about the cost of imported items. Here’s the tale of the tape: Dominion will set you back 720 Rand ($42.91). The classic Settlers of Catan is a bit more expensive at 750 Rand ($44.70). Ticket to Ride and Smallworld are each 850 Rand ($50.66). Granted, some of that cost comes from acquiring these games at a fancy mall, but on the other hand, these prices include tax since South Africa uses a VAT system. Perhaps I’d still better buy my board games during my trips back to the States! Conversely, the LEGO Sydney Opera House costs 3700 Rand ($220.50) rather than the $320 it would cost on Amazon.
Thank you for taking this walk with me!