Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dalma Garden Mall: Opening of the first mall in Armenia

The first real mall opened today in Yerevan. I couldn't miss the event and since everyone is asking me how it went, I decided to make a post with my impressions and photos.
Dalma Grand Opening

It's a 2-story huge (for Yerevan) building with a nice interior. The parking lot can accommodate more than 700 cars). There are several escalators and 2 elevators. Apart from a hypermarket (Carrefour, to be opened in November) and 50+ shops, there is a Coffee House (on Level 1) and a food court with Tashir pizza (not surprisingly), Mr.Gyros, Wasabi, Spago Grill (on Level 2). To the disappointment of the opening's visitors -- only Tashir pizza was operating with the usual taste-less pizza and big queues. A "Cinema Star" complex is in the plans, so is a bowling alley and children's playground.

a fountain and a small glass bridge
The good:
  • Many new franchise stores have opened and many more were announced on the doors of the yet empty areas. A good part of our population has been waiting for the opening of brand stores of Zara, Bershka, Marks & Spencer, Gap, Stradivarius, Pull&Bear, Topshop, Accessorize, NewYorker in Armenia. The full list of the brands is available in the description of the event.
  • Many brands that already have their stores in Yerevan will have stores Dalma as well (like Mango, Promod, Clarks, Aldo, Baldi, Bata, Chocco, Yves Rocher, Sali and others)
  • There is a Zigzag megastore! yep, an electronics megastore in Yerevan :)
the electronics megastore in Dalma
  • The interior planning and design are generally good. The coffee house on the Level 1 looks really pretty :) There were a few fountains: the ones on the level 1 were with colourful lights, really cute:)
the Dalma Coffee House 
  • A huge Zara store was opened today, with a fashion show organized in the evening. The collection was big and for almost all tastes, as always. 
  • Charles & Keith -- a shoes and accessories store had a nice collection! 
  • The prices (in case someone still doubts) are the same as in all other franchise stores of the brands.
  • There was a really great mood around the mall, because of the many familiar faces, music, scents, balloons and a sunny weather visible from the big windows on the ceiling. 

Dalma Coffee House again
Charles & Keith in Dalma
Accessorize in Dalma
Zara in Dalma
Oysho in Dalma
The bad:
  • Unfortunately, only few stores were open today. Some opened hours after the mall's official opening. You could see the store (like Accessorize), ready, with assistants inside, but there was a security guard at the door, not letting anyone in. Marks & Spencer, occupying one of the biggest areas, has invited everyone to the mall opening, but was actually closed :) with all the items set up and balloons at the door. They just replied to me saying "WE ARE EXCLUSIVE BRAND..and we need EXCLUSIVE OPENING!! YOU ALL WILL BE INFORMED !!!!!!". Well, ok :))
  • I couldn't find a list of stores which are actually open already, either a timeline for those that will open soon. 
  • There was a limited -- almost no food choice today. After walking around we got quite hungry, but resisted to stand in a queue for a Tashir pizza. The Coffee House didn't yet have any menu, or food whatsoever. We just took a good Molinari cappuccino, after waiting for a table to become vacant for quite a long time. Yeah, there were too many people for too few tables. But i guess it was because of the opening.
the food court
  • Some areas in the mall (especially Level 2) were yet dusty, not yet constructed. I had a glance through the slightly opened door of the Cinema complex. It was yet just nothing but a cement :D
  • The concert outside of the mall featuring Armenian pop stars (and then a group of some 'ancient' Russian pop chicks) was totally useless. I don't think anyone visited the opening because of the concert. It just created some unnecessary noise and problems for the parking and traffic.
The concert outside Dalma
  • The website has been down for days because of an exceeded bandwidth.
  • The small brochure of the mall with the floor plan is poorly designed. The text (in English) is awful :) or maybe it's just literally translated from Russian.
the Dalma floor plan scanned from the brochure
Dalma brochure
Dalma Garden Mall is open from 10:00 to 22:00

A little background:
Dalma Garden Mall was build by the Dalma Invest company, affiliated with Tashir Group, with a $50 million investment.
The territory on which the mall was built was part of the Dalma gardens.
.. it used to be a historical monument in the form of gardens which stretched from Erebuni Museum to Yerevan Lake, then farther to Tsitsernakaberd, Hrazdan Gorge and much farther, up to Zvartnots Airport and to Echmiadzin through Argavand. It used to be a forest planted with fruit tress and vineyards, unique in their species. (Ecolur)
The land owners of the gardens have been protesting the illegal decision of the municipality for already 9 years, when they were seized their land areas and sold to new owners thus violating their rights. (here is more info on this in Armenian).

Dalma Garden Mall has been scheduled to open last year, or even earlier, if I'm not mistaken. It was being postponed without approximate dates for several times. Later it was connected with the fact that they want to open many franchise boutiques and months are needed to do the interior design and furnishing.

me caught by Anna from the escalator
me in Zara
with my friend Emma and her bump :)
Here's a professional photo report from the opening by PanARMENIAN Photo.