National Geographic opens store for Asia travelers

Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:40am EST
 
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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - National Geographic opened its first Asian store in Singapore this week, saying it was drawn to the gateway city to tap growing overseas travel by people in the region.

"In Asia, Singapore is arguably a country where Asians and the rest of the world gather, with many nationalities and cultures living alongside each other. It is the perfect place to start in Asia," executive Sven Thierhoff told Reuters.

Located in Singapore's largest shopping mall, far from the jungles and volcanoes its magazines typically depict, the store lures in customers with walls lined with National Geographic photos, before more conventional displays of travel clothing, camera equipment and books.

"It's different from other stores -- it's unique and helps bring the documentaries and pictures to real physical form," said Singapore resident Claire Benson, 34, from England.

Best known for its yellow-edged magazine, the National Geographic nonprofit group opened its first retail space last month on London's Regent Street, after four years of planning.

In the Singapore store, visitors can purchase antiques such as a fire engine hose with a hefty price tag of S$21,600 ($14,610), or a Balinese-made horse sculpture for S$7,500.

"The store feels like a museum ... it's an interesting concept," said Haroon Cajee, 48, a long-term Singapore resident from South Africa.

Marketing official Alex Dotti said he believed consumers, particularly those subscribing to National Geographic's magazine and television channel, would still pay for quality products despite a downturn that has pushed Singapore into recession.

National Geographic said it reaches 325 million people worldwide via its various media. Its magazines have more than 100,000 subscribers in Singapore.

(Reporting by Laurence Tan; Editing by Neil Chatterjee and Dean Yates)