WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Among Bangkok’s diverse families and business tales is the story of CENTRAL, a name its founders Tiang and Samrit Chirathivat had given the company to mean ‘the heart of the community, enriching society and the economy’. Neighbourhoods grew and progressed wherever CENTRAL  reached, and Bangkok saw its urban districts transform. More than five generations and seventy years later, CENTRAL remains synonymous with Bangkok’s dynamic lifestyle.

CENTRAL: THE ORIGINAL STORE takes you back to day one in 1950, harbouring the spirit of the founding era when the world saw peace and prosperity. This is where CENTRAL’s history is freshly told, with foresight into the future.

A MEMORY
REFRESHED

1927

A FAMILY ARRIVAL

The family of three; Tiang (Zheng Ni Tiang), his wife Wan, and their two-year-old son Samrit (Hok Seng), arrived in Thailand from Hainan, China.

1929

THE ENTREPRENEUR

Living in Bang Khun Thian, Thonburi, the small family opened a shop called Keng Seng Lee, in a unique triangular-shaped shop-house and aptly coined ‘the triangle’ by its neighbours.

NEIGHBOURHOOD SUCCESS

Keng Seng Lee was a 50-square metre multi-goods shop, with the first floor selling coffee, made-to-order food, clothing and groceries. The second floor was a hair salon. It was a glimpse of the family’s destined retail business. Nearly two decades later, Central was born.

1947

“CENTRAL TRADING” is Founded

Central Trading Co., Ltd., was incorporated by father and son, Tiang and Samrit. Tiang gave it the Chinese name Zhong Yang 中央, meaning ‘centre’ and Samrit embraced the English word, CENTRAL.

1950

THE FIRST STORE

The original Central store at 1266 Charoen Krung Road was opened for business on the 5th of July, 1950 under the inauguration of Central Trading Co., Ltd. This was the first shop of the Chirathivat family and the beginning of Central Group’s heritage.

THE ORIGINAL STORE IS BACK

Inspired by what the family has pioneered, CENTRAL: THE ORIGINAL STORE is a contemporary space for Bangkok’s evolving urban lifestyle that yearns for heritage and culture. Charoen Krung is the quintessential neighbourhood, that Central has always served and fostered the relationship, strengthening the enduring bond into the 21st century.

BOOKS AND MORE

With its history of imported books and magazines that  opened  the  public’s  worldview, Central: The Original Store pioneers a new take on books as a centre of knowledge; combining the harmony of the romanticism of print with the advancements of digital literature, as well as a content-led space in a friendly and accessible setup of a library and research facility.

A NEW BANGKOK

Witnessing a Cultural Shift

After World War II, Charoen Krung Road became Bangkok’s first international street. Mingling with visitors and being exposed to new visuals, a new generation of Thais discovered newfound talents in photography and fashion with many going on to become renowned photographers and fashion pioneers in Thailand; though few have documented such a phenomenon.

THE AVANT-GARDE

New Ideas that changed the neighbourhood

Vivian Maier’s self-portrait on 15th June, 1959, exemplified this neighbourhood’s creative phenomenon. She was on Charoen Krung Road, in front of Soi 38*, just steps away from Central: The Original Store.  Maier’s iconic photograph tells us of Charoen Krung as a destination for early globetrotters.

Central: The Original Store continues to be a contributor to such creative transformations in the 21st century, as the Charoen Krung neighbourhood moves forward to become an international destination whose stories are diverse and abundant — an integral part of modern Bangkok.

*from independent research by Somchai Kwangtongpanich

Central: The Original Store continues to be a contributor to such creative transformations in the 21st century, as the Charoen Krung neighbourhood moves forward to become an international destination whose stories are diverse and abundant — an integral part of modern Bangkok.

Contact us