Holiday shopping at ‘Divisoria of the North’

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Robinsons Novaliches bazaar

CHRISTMAS is less than a week away and that means it’s the home stretch for those wanting to get their Christmas gifts locked and loaded and ready for distribution.

For many, no holiday shopping is complete without a trip to Divisoria, with its thousands of stalls offering a huge array of affordable merchandise from apparel to knick-knacks, but for those who live far away in the north and might not have the courage to brave the holiday traffic, Robinsons Novaliches offers a smaller, curated version of merchants to help solve one’s holiday shopping needs.

The mall, located along Quirino Highway in Novaliches, Quezon City, started its annual Christmas bazaar in 2007 as a small pop-up event but has now grown into a destination in and of itself with 248 stalls spread across the mall’s open parking lots.

From clothes to shoes to odds and ends, the bazaar (which runs until January 5) has a considerable selection of budget steals, which is how the mall is marketed — a community mall for residents of Quezon City, Caloocan City, and even as far as San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.

“This mall [caters] to the micro-retailers and bazaars. The Christmas Bazaar supports the brand. It’s really for the budget-conscious Filipinos,” Vicente Mallapre III, Robinsons Malls group marketing manager, told reporters during a visit in November.

Mr. Mallapre said that they intentionally created “Divisoria of the North” because they understood how hard it is for some people to get to Divisoria in Manila with the holiday rush and general Metro Manila traffic.

Many of their customers, he said, come to the bazaar every year almost like a tradition because the location is so convenient that they can shop after work. The bazaar operates from 11 a.m. and closes at midnight.

(Pro-tip: Mr. Mallapre said that it can get very crowded at night, especially after work hours, so the best time to go to the bazaar is when it opens before noon.)

During the tour of the bazaar, this reporter noticed that most of the merchandise sold in the bazaar are budget-friendly: a pair of loose pants are for P100, earrings for P50, wallets for P50, etc. In fact, one can get an entire Christmas look for less than P1,000 or maybe even less if you manage to haggle the prices down.

While most stalls offer clothes, look hard enough and one will be able to see a few stalls selling children’s toys and cellphone accessories.

The bazaar also has a small food court area for those who want to take a break from all the shopping. It can be a veritable maze and this writer definitely got lost a few times.

Note though, that a visit might net so much stuff that one should bring a durable eco-bag for the trip to save the hassle of bringing so many plastic bags home. — Zsarlene B. Chua