Bid adieu to the market failures.

The free market enterprise system in Singapore has given people a lot of things: Perceived convenience, perceived limitless choices and perceived affordability — all in the name of letting consumers have what they want.

But the other thing that the capitalist system gives us that is not talked about as often: Market failures.

Because for every visible successful commercial entity operating in Singapore lies a cemetery of failed business models and forgotten brands killed by rising rentals, manpower woes or a general lack of interest in the product or service as not many people even care about it in the first place.

Once in a while, we need to look back and embrace the ones that went under, because it was good while it lasted.

And remind the hopeful not to get into the same non-viable businesses and make the same mistakes and blow up a lot of money in the process.

Therefore, here are 17 brands that have disappeared in Singapore over the last few years, some of which you might not have even noticed:

 

1. Frolick

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Do you still remember Frolick?

Its business model was simple: Pander to the adolescent crowd and get sweet young things to sell frozen cultured milk and sugar yogurt.

 

2. River Island

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Opened with massive fanfare when it arrived in Singapore, but disappeared without a trace in 2012. Shifted its operations since and can be found online on Zalora now though.

 

3. Canele

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Canele patisserie closed down in the middle of 2014 after operating for 10 years. Owned by the Les Amis Group, it was one of the first shops to serve high-end French pastries and macarons in Singapore. The labour crunch reportedly did it no favours.

 

4. U2

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Clothing line famed for its plain t-shirts. Merged with G2000 in 2007.

 

5. Video Ezy

Update Dec. 30, 2014, 2.55pm: Video Ezy is alive! Please hang in there!

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Once the go-to place when you were bored, this VCD/ DVD rental shop located across Singapore got killed by YouTube and broadband. Last Facebook post was in late 2013. RIP.

 

6. Maggie Moo’s

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Unnaturally colourful-looking ice cream that came to Singapore’s shores in 2010 with its creepy-ass cow and was trying to capitalise on the ice cream boom then. Died after a three-year run.

 

7. Page One

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Home-grown book retailer Page One closed its only store at VivoCity in February 2012 due to high rental. The 28,000 sq ft store had been reportedly incurring huge losses since it opened in 2006.

 

8. Fancl

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Japanese skincare brand Fancl closed all its outlets in Singapore in March 2014, in a somewhat surprising move. Like one day it just decided, “Boom, we’re outta here.” Apparently, they have been losing money.

 

9. Aussino

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Shops around Singapore stopped operating in early 2014. People have been leaving angry Facebook commentsasking where in Singapore they can buy their favourite towels and bedsheets and that their website is not updated. No response.

 

10. Kung Fu Paradise

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Purveyors of instant noodles. Good riddance. Last outlet closed at Bedok Point in September 2014.

 

11. Eng Wah Cinema

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Well, this one is kind of touchy, depending on how you look at it: Eng Wah Cinema either died or got rebranded asWE Cinemas in Clementi. Why WE? They kind of flip the initials around? I don’t know?

Golden Village has taken over the space in Suntec City Mall previously occupied by WE. In the past few years, WE has shuttered its cineplexes at Jubilee in Ang Mo Kio and at Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre.

 

12. Flam’s

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French cuisine place bites the dust after just one year. Opened at Orchard Central on April 2, 2012 and closed down in March 2013, it was a highly rated place but it couldn’t survive somehow. Bad fengshui, perhaps.

 

13. Sembawang Music Centre

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Once touted in the press as a business case study worth fawning over and scrutinising, Sembawang Music Centre went from one shop to 26 outlets at its peak. It then cemented its reputation as the perfect business case (again) when its entire model got disrupted by the Internet, digitisation and the non-rivalrous nature of music downloads. Folded in 2009.

 

14. Carrefour

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Used to be at Suntec City. Somehow selling groceries just wasn’t that lucrative. Closed down at the end of 2012. But doesn’t explain why Giant came stomping into Singapore and is still around.

 

15. Francfranc

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Survived two years in the Singapore market from 2012 to 2014, it was the 22-year-old brand’s first foray into the South-east Asian market. Francfranc is actually a Japanese lifestyle store. Had two outlets here.

They had a 9,300 sq ft store in JCube in Jurong East that closed first in April 2014, while the bigger 20,000 sq ft flagship VivoCity store in Harbourfront shut down in May.

Known for its overpriced chic stylish home furnishings, fabrics, lighting and appliances.

 

16. Zhen Zhou Dao

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Opened in November 2012 and closed in March 2014.

Fronted by TV personality-foodie Moses Lim, this porridge and zi char restaurant at Tanjong Katong Road lasted less than one and a half years.

Served comfort food at affordable prices but did in by rising rentals and manpower woes.

 

17. Crazy Horse

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Opened from 2005 to 2007. Most likely killed by broadband and the Internet because why pay money to see boobs?

 

Update Dec. 30, 2.55pm: More readers’ submissions:

18. Taco Bell

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Used to share space with KFC and used to be at Funan Centre. Gone.

 

19. Banquet Foodcourt

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Closed in early 2014. The company was in the red since 2010.

 

20. Five Star Tours

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Closed all eight of its branches in Singapore in January 2014. Poof. Disappeared.

 

21. Perlini’s Silver

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Secondary school students’ Tiffany & Co. for their stead. No wonder closed down.

 

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