For an Oriental shopping spree visit the Plaza

Fordsburg, situated in the heart of Johannesburg, has long been home to one of the most original shopping experiences the city has to offer.

Fordsburg, situated in the heart of Johannesburg, has long been home to one of the most original shopping experiences the city has to offer.

Thoughts of the Oriental Plaza bring to mind rolls of fabric of all colours, textures and designs, spilling from doorways onto tables in the bright Johannesburg sun. Small kiosks of toys tempt kids while their mothers peruse hair accessories or shop for chilli bites and samoosas from stalls that sell traditional Indian fare alongside straw baskets, gold buttons, jewellery, traditional clothing, matric dance dresses, baby clothes and accessories, and anything else you can imagine at bargain prices.

There are more than 360 shops in the complex that covers 17 hectares. The Plaza, as it is affectionately called, consists of three sections - a north and south uncovered section of sprawling shops linked by a three-storey circular shopping area called the Grand Bazaar, decorated with festive yellow and pink drapes and large coloured lanterns.

The Oriental Plaza has an interesting, political history. It was opened in the mid-1970s and was a direct result of apartheid's segregation plans. Indian shopkeepers were relocated from nearby Vrededorp and Pageview to the new site where most of the merchants bought their own shops. It is one of the only shopping centres in the country in which small retailers own their own shops. During the 1960s the neighbouring areas, known as "Fietas", were destined to be flattened and redeveloped as white areas.

Most Indian and Coloured residents were moved to Lenasia and Eldorado Park, 30km away.

Fietas was a vibrant, multi-cultural suburb of several thousand people, settled in the early 1900s. Its 14th Street was a hubbub of shops, selling everything from tin pots to tailored suits, with shopkeepers and their families living above their stores.

They were relocated to the Oriental Plaza and the entire street vibe was transferred to the Plaza, which still maintains its bustling energy today.

The Plaza attracts millions of shoppers and is one of the most popular shopping areas, particularly for fabric and curtaining.

HOT SHOPS

HOUSEWIVES PARADISE: A one-stop shop for kitchenware, crockery and cutlery.

KAYS CLASSY CURTAINS: Curtains, quilts, pelmets, swags, plus re-upholstery and installation.

MAY I BUYE STORE BRIDAL FABRICS: All bridal-related clothing and materials.

DELHI DELICIOUS: Traditional Indian snacks.

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