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Posted on 6 Dec 2017 by BullionStar

Mustafa Centre: Gold in Singapore

While there are a number of specialist companies such as BullionStar servicing Singapore’s retail gold bullion market, the most unusual place to buy gold bars in Singapore must be the Mustafa Centre in the Little India neighborhood.

Located in a building on Syed Alwi Road, and part of another adjacent building on Serangoon Road, the Mustafa Centre is a cluttered haphazard department store and arcade that seems to sell everything from clothes to electronics, from perfumes to gold jewelry, and everything in between. It is also known as being one of the biggest gold jewelry outlets in Singapore.

Crowded and Congested

The Mustafa Centre itself is frequently crowded, often congested, and stays open 24 hours a day. Even trying to approach one of the entrances to the Mustafa Centre can be a stressful experience, and this is after navigating through a maze of often crowded streets if you find yourself approaching from the nearest MRT Station, which is itself a 15 minute walk from Mustafa’s premises.

Once you do happen to find Mustafa’s gold jewelry section, which is located in the basement 1 level of one of the centre's buildings, you will have to navigate past a floorspace crammed with clothes displays before stumbling upon a series of interconnected aisles assigned to gold jewelry.

While this jewelry space is about the size of a basketball court and stacked full of counters displaying gold earrings, gold rings, and gold chains and necklaces, the gold bar and gold coin display is relegated to a tiny rectangular counter, as if it was an after-thought among the masses of gold jewelry being hawked. This small gold bar and coin counter is itself cluttered, and badly presented, and is reminiscent of the display cases of a second-hand IT equipment shop.

Limited Selection

The advertised prices for the limited selection of gold bars and gold coins that are on offer at Mustafa consists of a partially typed and partially hand-written price list page that sits on top of the counter. When this correspondent visited on the Sunday afternoon of 29 October, the price list strangely had the dates 28 - 29 October scrawled at the top, as if it had just been written one time that weekend on the Saturday and then not updated over the weekend.

The accuracy of the prices on that particular price list are therefore called into question. Where the Mustafa Centre sources its gold prices or 'Gold Rate' from is also not clear. In India and India's expat communities, 'Gold Rate' is a term often used to refer to the gold price.

Mustafa's bullion products and their prices, although typed, are squashed on to the list, with various hand-written notes along the left and right side margins. Strangely, parts of the list are highlighted in yellow highlighter marker. What this signifies we do not know, but perhaps it refers to the products that are in stock as opposed to out of stock.

Mustafa's gold product price list, 28-29 October

Within the actual display cases of Mustafa's gold bar display cases, the gold bars are very much crammed into the display area as if everything in stock is actually on display. The old adage of "more is less" as regards presentation and visual display seems to have been lost on whoever lays out the Mustafa display cases.

Mustafa's gold bar display cases - Pack 'em in, Pile 'em high...

Disappointingly, there is also a very limited range and brands of gold bars and gold coins actually offered by Mustafa's gold bullion counter, with nearly everything in the bar section being of the PAMP brand, and with very few gold coin types at all.

Mustafa's gold bullion display cases - hidden in a small section of the gold jewelry store

A number of precious metals research consultancies regularly do field trips to bullion markets around the world, including Singapore, so as to gauge at first hand the level of retail demand for bullion in a particular market. As regards Singapore, some anecdotal evidence we have heard from these consultancies is that it is virtually impossible to calculate the level of gold bullion demand in the Little India area.

Some of the reason for this is because gold bars and gold coins regularly arrive into Little India that have been hand carried from countries such as Dubai or other regional markets. And so this gold would not be reflected in the Singapore supply statistics of, for example, the Swiss refineries or the Canadian and Australian mints.

There are also a lot of resales of gold bullion in Little India, such as a parent swapping gold bars for gold jewelry to give to a sibling as a wedding present. It is therefore difficult to estimate where the gold bullion sold in Little India comes from. Not Mustafa specifically, but this issue must be borne in mind as regards Little India in general.

BullionStar's Spacious Shop and Showroom

In contrast to Little India's Mustafa, BullionStar could not be more different. BullionStar's shop and bullion showroom in central Singapore is located in an easily accessible and well-known section of New Bridge Road across from Clarke Quay Central Shopping mall. BullionStar's premises is also adjacent to the Clarke Quay MRT station. Those working in the Central Business District (CBD) will find that BullionStar is just a short lunchtime walk from the CBD.  And from Chinatown, BullionStar's showroom is less than a 10 minute walk.

Spacious Display Cases in BullionStar's Shop and Showroom

All of the gold bars and gold coins in the extensive range of gold bullion stocked by BullionStar are sourced either directly from the world's most prestigious precious metals refineries and mints such as Argor-Heraeus, PAMP, Heraeus, Valcambi, and the Royal Canadian Mint, or are supplied directly to BullionStar by the world's most renowned precious metals wholesalers such as Dillon Gage and A-Mark. BullionStar staff are also knowledgeable about all aspects of the range of gold and silver bullion stocked.

In BullionStar's shop and showroom, the floor-space is generous, the design calm and ergonomic, with many display cases devoted to gold bullion and silver bullion. Nothing is cluttered, and visitors and customers entering the air-conditioned showroom will be able to browse and view a huge range of gold bars and gold coins, and silver bars and silver coins, with every product type stylishly and spaciously displayed in its own display case. All display cases are also well-lit and well presented.

An impressive feature which BullionStar customers find useful are the electronic screens next to each display case which show updated prices for those products. These prices are live and are displayed electronically and updated electronically in real-time.

A final point to note is that the Mustafa Centre's gold bullion counter does relatively poorly in customer reviews, with customer feedback of poor customer service, dis-interested staff, and prices higher than elsewhere in Singapore. Based on reviews on the Singapore website 'Bullion Reviews', Mustafa scores lowest out of all 6 Singapore bullion dealers featured, with Mustafa getting a total score of 3.9 from 27 reviews.

In contrast, on the same review site, BullionStar receives a total score of 9.1 from 131 reviews. And BullionStar's prices are generally perceived to be some of the most competitive, if not the most competitive, in Singapore.

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  • wildthing

    Thanks for this article…this was one of the points of interest I was going to visit while in Singapore…I’ll be seeing you. Professionalism means a lot to me!

  • Fan

    I find this article to be in poor taste. Running down a competitor and “blowing your own trumpet”. I had purchased once before from Bullion Star. On that occasion I found the authorization process for third party collection to be cumbersome. And when the third party went to collect my order, I was informed (and I have no reason to doubt or question my representative), that the reception was at its best cold, and at its worst, unfriendly / unwelcoming. That was the first and last transaction I had with Bullion Star. So it may be a spacious store but service wise, there is certainly much room for improvement.

  • Sathz

    i’m surprised you guys are going this direction….whats the point of your post. to discredit them because they sell gold at higher premium? Coke, Tiger beer has differnt premium at coffee stalls and bars. same coke , same beer…FYI mustafa has been in SG for possibly 50years or more and you maybe 3yrs may be 5yrs or 10 yrs…so now yr trying to be the saviour of gold sales in SG? …their customer base is not your customer base…your article is of poor taste….extremely disappointed in this lame post!!!!!

  • Wei Long Shen

    I would recommend you take down this article quickly and write another one which talks about the competitiveness of your gold pricing. This article will only bring you detractors while the latter will bring you more fans.

  • Joshua Wang

    What is the purpose of this article?
    If you wanted to advocate the importance of owning Precious Metals, you should instead promote the sale of PM at other locations including Mustafa Center, and give people more information on where to buy PM in Singapore.
    If you wanted to promote the benefit of buying from your company’s retail / online store, denigrating your competitors is very unprofessional, and opens yourself and your company to reciprocal treatment from other businesses.

  • JJ_44

    I’ve always wondered about what’s going on at Mustafa…

    Their website is awful and there’s no information about gold or basically anything else there. I’ve visited Mustafa once and the service was non-existent and outright appalling when I was trying to ask questions to the counter staff.

    Although I can understand the sentiment of some of the other comment ators, I find the article factual and as it actually matches my experience. It sort of confirms my hunch that perhaps it wasn’t just me that wasn’t understanding Mustafas pricing and policies around gold but that they are rather messy in general.

  • Rashid Gupta

    i like shopping in mustafa!! i buy everything from gold, soap, shampoo to my underwear from mustafa. i don’t mind paying 10 to 15 dollars more for the gold at mustafa because i save so much money buying cheap underwear from mustafaa!!

  • Vishal Misir

    Oh wow praise your company and bring down mustafa . if i compare them i will support mustafa because the more customers the better the sales will be going for them .you said the are very unorganized . when i see them it looks organised to me. you compare the amount of gold you have and the amount of the gold mustafa has in the picture . the crowded the place the better it is .you are jealous about mustafa sales so admit it

  • Michael

    I was one of your customer who purchase bars/coins regularly, but after reading this article.. i don’t see any point you need to do this.. http://www.skbullion.com , https://www.goldheartbullion.com has more competitive prices. Gold heart bullion is located in plaza singapura.. and it open during sat sunday and even public holiday…

  • Mikael Yonas

    So you are better because Mustafa is bad? This is not the Singapore way! Singapore is about efficiency & service and does not talk down to others instead rises above based on its own excellence!

    This seems like an appropriate idea maybe in a village, not #1 city in the world.

    Seems like you guys belong in a remote village selling cigarettes with this kind of tabloid mentality.

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