The Golden Mile Food Centre was completed in 1975 to house resettled hawkers from the Jalan Sultan street market. The food centre is also known for its "Army Market" on its third storey due to its high concentration of army supply shops.
The concentration of such shops could be attributed to the market’s proximity to the former headquarters of various uniformed organisations such as the Singapore Volunteer Corps (or the People’s Defence Force), the Singapore Military Forces, Boys Brigade, St John’s as well as the Beach Road Camp which housed several SAF units and was used for military training.
The Beach Road Army Market started off by selling army paraphernalia at competitive prices to National Servicemen, Operationally Ready NSmen (who patronise the shops to obtain supplies for their in-camp training) as well as secondary and tertiary uniform groups from the National Cadet Corps.
The army supply shops at the market offer a wide range of army paraphernalia including minute ejaculator pins for rifles, mess tins and water bottles, groundsheets, boots and shoes etc. A number of shops also offer related services such as the production of name tags, the sewing of ranks onto uniforms etc.
These army supply shops comprise mainly small individual businesses although there are a few bigger players such as Zulaika Store with five units and Mosh Shop with four units. Many of the army supply shops usually start business at around 10am or 11am, and by 8pm or 9pm, most of them would close for the day.
Many of the owners of the army supply shops are middle-aged or elderly, and they had either started the business themselves or took over the shops from their parents. Some of them have branched into the wholesale business in order to sustain their businesses while a few elderly shop owners keep their shops open just to pass time.
The Beach Road Army Market is most crowded during the weekends when the National Servicemen book out of their respective camps and/or when the secondary and tertiary uniform groups do not have to attend school.
During the 1980s, the merchandise available at the Beach Road Army Market expanded to include camping equipment and by the early 2000s, shops selling street fashion started appearing in the market due to the relatively low rent and the "underground appeal" of the market.
In recent years, the army supply shops at the Beach Road Army Market face increasing competition from the establishment of eMarts in army camps which allow National Servicemen to purchase their equipment and other items with their allocated credits.
Today, there is a total of 111 units with more than half of them offering army supplies, related services and camping equipment while the rest of the shops sell fashion clothing, accessories, electronics etc. However, as many of these shops face declining sales and with leases for the shops expiring in 2016, the future for the Beach Road Army Market appears to be an uncertain one.
A project by National Heritage Board.