Best Local Store 2015

Posted by Mark

goodgame

nima

Winner: Good Game
I’ve been seeing a lot of party games at gatherings in recent years. There was Monopoly Deal for a while and then the more entertaining Kuwaiti knockoff. I’m sure a lot of you have heard of Cards Against Humanity, the fart joke of the party game market. Garbage. I seriously can’t stand that game. It’s like watching a compilation of “thats what she said” jokes.

So what better opportunity to tell you about Good Game, a shop in Sanabil Tower specialising in all types of tabletop games. If it has dice, a board, cards, figures or any combination of them, chances are they sell it there. They have an absurd collection of games fillings their walls with varying degrees of difficulty and complexity, they have something for everyone, nerd or non-nerd alike.

The place is great. Everyone who works in the shop has played nearly if not every game and are able to answer questions or recommend a game based what you tell them you like. I love that it became the light to which all nerds in kuwait fluttered. The place is more than a shop, it’s become something more than that. It’s become a community.

Runner up: Orchidaceae
On Mr. Mark’s recommendation, I went to Orchidaceae a few months ago to get flowers for my wife (for my cat to nibble to pieces). It is hidden away in the reinhabited industrial MadMax wasteland that is Shuwaikh. Great design, the staff know their business and they aren’t quick to recommend things they know are impractical. Surprisingly affordable insta-class.

mark

Winner: Good Game
First full disclosure, the owner of Good Game is a really good friend of mine as well as Nima. Actually, the first time I met the owner is when Nima invited me over to play the Game of Thrones board game with him and a couple of other people around two years back (what a complicated board game that was, I still don’t understand it). The owner loves board games, like REALLY loves them which is why he opened up Good Game in the first place. What I love about the shop and the reason I chose it as a winner is the fact that it has become more than just a place where you go and buy stuff. Anyone with money can open a store but what Good Game has done is create a wonderful community. Pass by anytime during the evening and you’ll find a group of guys sitting in the store playing board games, if you pass by on weekends it’s even more packed. The shop has created a space where people into board games can go socialize and pass time. In a place like Kuwait where we’re always looking for something to do, Good Game is a treasure.

Runner up: Pet Zone
If it wasn’t for the community aspect of Good Game I personally would have chosen Pet Zone as the winner. We really are lucky to have a pet shop this huge here in Kuwait especially considering dogs aren’t really loved over here. If you have a pet and you’ve never been to Pet Zone in Shuwaikh then please make sure you do.

Location: Good Game is located in Al-Sanabil Tower in Sharq, on Mezzanine 2. Here is the location on [Google Maps]


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New Renderings of Avenues Phase 4 and Map

Posted by Mark

avenues4

I managed to get a hold of some new renderings of Avenues Phase 4 from the marketing department at Avenues as well as a map to help visualize where everything will be located.

map
You can download the hires version of two maps [Here] and [Here]

I’ve already posted some renderings before but they sent me new ones I hadn’t seen before so I’m sharing them all below along with a little snippet of information which they had emailed me. Based on the map it looks Avenues will be around 20% larger than it’s current state once the final phase is completed.

Avenues Phase IV includes expansions of existing districts that have been highly popular with visitors, including Prestige, Grand Avenue and The Souk. New districts with modern and diverse concepts will also be included to build on the shopping and entertainment experience. The new districts include Arcadia, The Grand Plaza, The Forum, Electra and The Cinema, as well as a five star hotel and another four star hotel.


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Avenues Phase 4 Updates

Posted by Mark

The Mabanee 2014 annual report recently got released and with it some updated information on the Avenues Phase 4 project:

– There will be two hotels not one, a five-star hotel and a four-star hotel
– The final new districts are: Arcadia, Electra, The Forum, The Grand Plaza and The Cinema
– Grand Avenue, Prestige and the Souk will all be expanded as well
– The new opening has been pushed back to the first quarter of 2018

Mabanee, the mall’s owning company is also building The Avenues Riyadh, The Avenues Khobar and The Avenues Bahrain. The total Phase 4 expansion will be adding 400 new stores to the Avenues, taking the total up to approximately 1200 stores. I honestly have no idea what else is still left to open, we pretty much have everything already as it is.

Check out my previous posts on the Avenues Phase 4 [Here]

Thanks Khaled


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Opt-Out of SMS Ads

Posted by Mark

teavana

I’m not a big fan of SMS ads because brands subscribe to them without my permission and there never seems to be a way to unsubscribe from them. Two days ago I got an SMS ad from Teavana, one of the only brands I don’t mind getting ads from since one time their ad was like come by and pick up 100g of free tea (which I did). But, in their latest ad I noticed they’ve now added an “opt-out” option at the end. I’m not going to opt-out of their SMS’s but I think every brand should have this option since it’s so much more professional and as a consumer, I don’t end up hating a brand because of their spam (I’m looking at you BMW). I’ll be filing this under Kuwait win of the week.


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New Luxury Outlet Mall and More

Posted by Mark

Yesterday during a press conference Tamdeen, the group behind 360 Mall, Al Kout and Fanar announced a new large scale project in Khiran. Tamdeen Group owns a massive block of land in Khiran which they’re planning to develop as:



– Kuwait’s first luxury outlet mall
– Two high-rise residential towers
– One furnished apartments tower
– A five-star resort with an internationally branded spa
– A marina to house over 900 boats (largest in Kuwait)
– Outdoor space



Tamdeen have tapped RTKL, the same architects behind 360, for this project. No completion date announced yet but they’ve released photos of the project which I’ve attached to this post.



I think the idea of a luxury outlet mall is fantastic, as well as the five star resort since we don’t have anything like it at the moment. Check out the press release [Here]

Thanks Khaled


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Order Groceries Online with Saveco

Posted by Mark

saveco

A friend made me aware you can order groceries online from Saveco supermarket. At the moment they only have their Tesco products and the website isn’t that great really but I guess you have to start from somewhere. Actually, I take that back, you either do something right or you don’t and right now I don’t know why Saveco has bothered with an online website if it only includes a tiny fraction of their products and just one brand. [Link]


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LuLu Hypermarket Salmiya Now Open

Posted by Mark

lulu

Lulu Hypermarket opened up their Salmiya location this weekend and I passed by last night to check it out. I have to say, opening up Lulu in the new Al Salam Mall had to be the worst idea in the world and I’ll tell you why.

The Lulu in Qurain has a parking lot the size of 6 football fields and it’s always packed. Same with the Lulu in Al Rai which has parking in front, on the side and a super huge parking lot in the back the size of 4 football fields. Their Salmiya location has a parking lot that is too tiny for the mall itself to begin with yet alone a mall with Lulu in it. The whole are around the mall is now jam packed with cars parked in every conceivable spot be it in the middle of the main road or on top of sidewalks. The traffic around the mall has also increased considerably and there are now traffic jams where there rarely used to be any cars before. The ridiculous part is there used to be a multistory parking lot behind the mall but for some reason they decided to demolish it.

The other issue is the amount of people who want to shop at this Lulu. When I went yesterday you literally couldn’t shop. I was without a trolley walking around and I had difficulty maneuvering through the crowd. If you did decide to do some shopping then you were met with the longest supermarket cashier queue I had ever seen (check the picture above).

I’m not sure if its currently super packed because they just opened but I hope thats the case. I think its probably always going to be super packed because it’s the closest Lulu for everyone living in the heavily populated areas of Jabriya, Hawalli, Salmiya and Salwa. As it is right now though it’s just insane.


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Avenues Opening in Bahrain

Posted by Mark

avenuesbahrain

Avenues is so big you’re now going to need to fly to get from one side to the other.


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Review: Borderlinx vs MyUS

Posted by Mark

Borderlinx and MyUS are both companies that offer US forwarding mailboxes so you can shop online, mail stuff to your US address and then have them forward it to your home in Kuwait. I’ve been using Aramex Shop&Ship since 2001 for my regular day to day shopping but a few years ago I signed up to Borderlinx since sometimes I needed my shipments to get to Kuwait fast and Shop&Ship is just too slow. Everything was fine and dandy until I realized Borderlinx was taking an 8.5% customs clearance fee on top of the 5% customs fee which I thought was absurd. So, I decided to try an alternative and I signed up to MyUS last month. This review is strictly Borderlinx vs MyUS and doesn’t include Shop&Ship because Shop&Ship is a lot cheaper as well as a lot slower (apples vs oranges).

membership

MyUS has been around since 1997, I first heard about them back in 2001 but ended up going with the much more affordable Shop&Ship instead. The reason I never signed up to MyUS even years later was their expensive shipping prices and fees. MyUS have different membership fees, the standard involves paying just $10 to open an account and no annual fee, but you don’t get the best shipping rates and you can’t consolidate your packages. To get the best deal you would have to sign up to their “premium” package but that costs $20 to setup and either $7 a month or $60 a year in membership fees. Recently though I found out that MyUS had special rates for credit card holders (which I posted here) where they not only waved all the setup fees but also offered additional discounts on shipping. I ended up signing up with my AMEX card which entitled me to free membership for 2 years as well as 30% off all my shipments.

Since I’m heading to SoleDXB next weekend I decided to order a backpack for the trip. I couldn’t risk shipping it with Shop&Ship and have it arrive after my trip so I sent it to MyUS mailbox instead. It was a bit risky since I hadn’t used my MyUS account yet but figured this would be the best way to test them out.

shippingoptions

MyUS allows you to customize a lot of different account options if you want to, for example they deal with a variety of shipping companies but if you have a preference you can say always use DHL or always use FedEx but by default its set on “Least Expensive Option”. You can also setup your account to ship packages as soon as they arrive or hold them until you choose to ship them. For an extra fee you can have them photograph the item for you, ship same day, add fragile stickers, add extra packing, discard shoe boxes and a bunch of more options. The different settings can be a bit overwhelming but you can not bother with them at all if you don’t want to.

Once my package got delivered to MyUS it popped up in my account on the same day. I then logged into my account and told them to ship it for me and this is where things weren’t as pretty as Borderlinx. With Borderlinx before you give the shipping order you’ll know exactly how much the shipping fee would cost as well as the customs fee, with MyUS you won’t know until your package is already shipped. I found that a bit uncomfortable since I’m not used to saying ship without knowing exactly how much it’s going to cost me. In any case a few hours later I got an email saying my package was shipped with FedEx and my credit card was charged. So I logged into my account to check and see how much it cost me. Based on the size of the package and weight, the package cost $93.74 to ship with insurance. With my 30% AMEX discount the price went down to $67.42. I took the package dimensions and weight and plugged them into the Borderlinx shipping cost calculator and ended up with an $85 shipping fee without insurance. Not a bad amount of savings but I was now worried about the customs fee. Borderlinx quoted me $52 for customs while with MyUS I needed to wait until the package arrived to Kuwait to find out. Three days later my package arrived to Kuwait and the total customs fee was around $30, I was relieved.

I saved around $40 by using MyUS over Borderlinx and the package arrived just as fast. MyUS has now officially become my go to mailbox for when I need my packages ASAP. I still find it uncomfortable to have them charge my credit card without knowing how much it’s going to cost me first but I’m just going to have to get used to it I guess. If you’re interested in signing up, make sure you check my previous post on MyUS to know how much you can save using which credit card. [Link]


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The New AAB World

Posted by Mark

aab1

I passed by Bang & Olufsen in Symphony Mall the other the night to see when they were getting the new BeoPlay A2 when I spotted a new AAB World store on the lower level. It turns out the store has been open for two months now and it’s their largest store yet. AAB World are a photography store and I’ve dealt with them on a number of occasions either for product reviews on the blog or for personal purchases.

aab2

The branch I used to frequent often was in the basement of Shamiya Coop and that location is really tiny so having this large store in my neighborhood makes things a lot more convenient. This location is so big they practically have each one of their products on display for you to check out including all their studio lights and camera stabilizers (for the movie buffs).

aab3

So if you’re interested in checking it out, they’re open from 9AM to 1PM and then again from 4PM to 10PM.


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