Inside Bangkok’s first “Hub of Sporting Goods, King of Musical Instruments, Queen of Cosmetics”
Archaic mannequins in the display windows are dressed in slightly faded clothes, perhaps by sunlight or dust. Although the surroundings have changed, time stands still in The Nightingale-Olympic.
Located in Phra Nakhon District, the design of this department store is preserved since 1966 despite recent paint restoration. At first glance, the building’s stark and cryptic exterior resemble a vertical maze in bright eggwhite yellow to match with canary letters on primrose red background signage.
Unlike other retail establishments in the city, it provides no parking space, air conditioning, or escalators. What it offers though is quite quirky. The mellow clerks all wear yellow while the owner’s cats wander the isles. The tranquil atmosphere embraces natural light and breeze from vintage metal fans.
The main hall is divided into sections. The glass counters on the left-hand side contain unarranged jewelries, observably outdated yet accompanied by updated price tags. The cornerstone of aged merchandise in this space is that unless an item is visibly priced, it is not for sale. Frequent visitors are long-term and returning customers, while some treat it more like an art museum. The true value of the not-for-sale goods depend on the eye of the beholder.
While many commodities seem rare and almost collectible, colourful shirts and activewear can be purchased elsewhere. In the middle situated a beauty corner where one can have a seat in front of the large mirror and test products.
Also showcased are classic wooden sports equipment, old Thai sports booklets and framed posters. The company was and is still noted for sporting goods, musical instruments, and cosmetics. It now sells Merle Norman cosmetics, retro Wilson baseball bat, MacGregor softball, Korean judo dobok, and Carnival Creations lingerie online.
The mezzanine floor is surrounded by aged musical instruments, retro board games and scattered fitness tools. A radio plays ‘80s Thai songs softly amidst the faded noises of the streets. An untouched collection of vinyl records is stacked horizontally in a cabinet, representing something valuable that is kept rather than used.
The window shopping experience here is indeed not meant to be compared to typical local malls in this era.
The Nightingale–Olympic Co., LTD.
70 Tri Phet Rd
Tel: 02 221 9733
Open: Mon-Fri 9am-5:30pm,
Sat 9am-6pm www.nightingaleolympic.com