Of course, Pattaya’s Tukcom shopping emporium isn’t what it was. High rents in the past, competition elsewhere in the city and the halt in foreign tourism to Thailand have all had a huge impact.
But it’s still worth a visit. The bargain eye-glasses stall on the ground floor, with all choices at 39 baht, is amazing. Meanwhile, the remaining counters and stores on five floors stocking computer equipment, cell phones and the rest can provide excellent value for money – for the discerning customer that is. English is widely spoken and staff are well-nigh universally helpful if your mobile is playing up or you have accidentally changed the language.
On the fourth floor you’ll find the premium home improvement store Mr DIY, one of several branches in the Pattaya area and hard to beat for plentiful stock and value for money. Mr DIY has had a meteoric history since the first one opened in Malaysia in 2005 and now boasts a thousand stores throughout south east Asia, a total workforce of 4,000 and a customer base of about two million shoppers. The Tukcom branch opened in November 2017 and will delight home improvers seeking electrical and manual tools of every kind, kitchenware across the board, computer and car accessories, soft furnishings and even umbrellas and cosmetics.
On our first visit the store was still using give-away plastic bags but seems now to have abandoned them in the interests of the environment. In the cashier’s area, there are some extra-value bargains. If you are searching for batteries and light bulbs have a closer look. Because of space restrictions, some bulkier products are absent here: household paints being a case in point. We didn’t check the actual floor space, but the average in all the Thai stores is around 10,000 square feet. The spacious Mr DIY branch at The Avenue on Pattaya’s Second Road seemed to us to have an even wider selection of home improvement products. Mr DIY’s business partners include Big “C” and Tesco Lotus.
Also on the fourth floor, you’ll find Best Entertainment which specializes in DVD products. True, this is a declining market worldwide thanks to the general public downloading its own material. Not to mention the launch of streaming services and the rise in cable subscriptions. Platforms such as Netflix and HBO – with others queuing up to join – have seen a huge slump in the purchase of store DVDs. Much the same can be said of the slightly more expensive Blue Ray discs launched in 2006 and now generally regarded as a flop.
But there’s still a sizeable market in Pattaya for on-demand purchases of DVDs, maybe assisted by the uneven quality of cable subscription TV and international decoder boxes in the Pattaya area. Best Entertainment has on show and in stock over one million DVDs, universally priced at 100 baht but with discounts for multiple purchase. The managers are very helpful and can usually arrange to obtain any missing foreign or obscure items with a day or two wait. Whilst we were there, a Frenchman was ordering all the films of Louis Malle, including the classic Au Revoir Mes Enfants about the deportation of Jewish schoolchildren in nazi-occupied France.
There are some misses amongst the very many hits. Maybe a particular DVD won’t play on your recorder or the language isn’t English in spite of what it says on the plastic cover. Very occasionally, the disc isn’t the movie tabled on the cover. One customer was returning his copy of Vincent Price’s The Raven because the content had turned out to be a movie about bird migration. It’s bound to happen with a stock of around one million. But there’s never a problem about returning your money or replacing a disappointing buy without any fuss. You can’t fault the cheerful marketing of Best Entertainment. A unique and welcome facility for home entertainment in the Pattaya area.