Last week, I got my first-ever glimpse of Westfield Eastgardens. Since forever, I’ve shunned visiting this mall since it’s quite far. The centre is located at corner Bunnerong Road and Wentworth Avenue in the Sydney suburb of Eastgardens. There is no train station nearby, just buses. It would only make sense to go there if you have a car. Since I missed my bus, I waited about half an hour for a direct trip from the city to the mall. The bus trip per se tacked on another half-hour. My first impression of Eastgardens is that it is dated. Having been established in 1987, it has been around for a while. I read that upon opening, the centre was the largest in Australia. The title would be short-lived as Chadstone (in Victoria) added another hut. The Scentre group, which owns Westfield, manages the mall on a long-term covenant.
Allow me to indulge in a brief history lesson. Westfield Eastgardens was concocted on the former Pagewood bus depot. Said depot became a car factory, where its closures cost a thousand jobs. The state government lobbied Westfield Group to build a mall on the site. NSW government rezoned and added crown land in their efforts to convince. There was some adversity from opposing landlords, and considerable public debate ensued. Westfield Eastgardens started trading on 19 October 1987. When it opened, it had Franklins, David Jones, a six-screen Hoyts cinema, Kmart, Target, and 180 other retailers. With the expansion (more details later), the centre now has 84,627 square metres of total retail floor area.
The mall has a decent food court. There is at least a dozen or so eateries, including the usuals: McDonald’s, KFC, and Oporto. Various cuisines are represented: American, East Asian, Italian, Portuguese, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, and Mexican (temporarily closed). If you’re into sandwiches, they’ve got you covered. If you like veggies, head to Sumo Salad. There are sushi and bahn mi, kebabs and gozleme, pizzas and cheap fish and chips. The price range varies from reasonable to dearer, as they house both economical and posh places. I noticed that KFC was a popular choice among diners. The chairs were set apart in line with the recommendations of social distancing.
I had a look around before heading to Myer. I recalled at the entrance that Eastgardens has a few anchor tenants. For starters, it houses the three major supermarkets: Woolworths, Coles, and Aldi. Moreover, it has three discount department stores: Target, Kmart, and Big W. It likewise has a Hoyts cinema and a two-floor Myer. The centre underwent a redevelopment in 2002, annexing a new supermarket (Woolies), plus Big W. Thus, Eastgardens became the first mall in the state to contain three discount department stores. The midyear sales had just ended when I swung by. I passed by one of the retailers who were hawking 50% off the second item. I ducked in for about ten seconds, noticed that no one else was duped, then I left.
The centre is clearly a one-stop shop. Aside from the three majors, the Westfield is also home to meat shops, seafood stops, bakeries, an Asian supermarket, a butcher, and a chicken shop. There are alterations and drycleaners, nurseries, six banks represented, and a bookstore. The mall contains forty men’s fashion stores, for those on a budget to those who could splurge. Eastgardens likewise has the three primary telecom companies: Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone. There is also an EB Games for good measure. The centre has a florist and three foreign currency exchanges. Furthermore, there are six optical stores in the vicinity, from OPSM to Oscar Wylee to Specsavers. There are outdoor stores like Kathmandu and Surf Dive n’ Ski. I took one look at the former before shopping elsewhere. Moreover, Eastgardens has a Strandbags for your luggage needs. Among the men’s shoe stores are a Foot Locker, a Platypus shop, a Nike store, and an Athlete’s Foot. Kids could hang out at the toy store while grownups could have their items repaired at the shoe repair and key cutting booths.
Browsing @ Myer
I spent considerably more time at Myer. As mentioned, there were no storewide promotions going on at the moment. However, I collected these socks that I ordered online. I got them a few days prior at forty percent off. While browsing, I saw this rose striped tee. It was in my size. The original price was thirty bucks, but I got it for seven fifty. I tried on this olive-coloured tee with a distinctive design, but it just looked black. I noticed that all the good items were in the big sizes (XL and L). The rest had already been had. The centre’s ungodly location is the obvious culprit. There aren’t any Myers close by, so naturally, the giraffes will flock there.
I noticed that business was bad at Myer. With the chain closing down stores a year or two ago, this definitely seems like the next one on the chopping block. The branch seems destined to follow the fate of its Top Ryde iteration, which closed down a few years ago. Interestingly, David Jones was the original tenant, which Myer replaced in 2008. This is a similar scenario to Bankstown, with DJ out. I believed that I spent too much time at Myer, time that could have been better spent at more-reasonably-priced stores. Afterward, I headed to JB but learned that they did not have what I was after. I managed to get some tips though from the informed salesman. Before doing the groceries, I bought some grub for dinner. It was better to get in early when you had more options still open. I then went to Aldi to do the weekly shop. It was a lighter shop as it was impractical to carry too much.
Catch of the day
While I was packing my bags, I remembered this long-sleeve tee that I’ve been keen on for months. I first saw the long sleeves at Macarthur (more on that visit to follow) and have been coveting it ever since. I decided to check Target out. To my surprise, they had the shirt on clearance. After months of being full price at $25, the item was down to $10. What’s more, they had it in my size. I didn’t think twice about it and it was ticked off my list. It’s curious how upmarket Myer was out of sizes while no-frills Target had loads of stock. However, I must admit that Myer was the exemption; most of the other stores were well-stocked. Because of the time I spent browsing at Myer, I wasn’t able to get to Kmart anymore.
Being winter, it was already dark when I sat at the bus stop. As I left the centre, I thought about my visit. Apart from the groceries, I did make three purchases. Given the inaccessible location, it would make sense to make the trip if you were only after a particular item. Everything else in the centre could be accessed somewhere closer: the three grocers, Myer, the cinema, JB, Target, and Kmart. Only Big W isn’t as ubiquitous. Many shoppers would go to Westfield Bondi instead for these reasons. Not only is it bigger and more convenient, but you likewise have shopping and dining options other than Westfield. Also consider that Myer is not well-stocked. So, Eastgardens – while noteworthy – is good for a one-time look. Yet unless you live nearby, you’re better off exploring somewhere closer.