Mr DIY is a Malaysian hardware and household store. It is a brand largely synonymous across the causeway and is a huge chain known for their large shops retailing very affordable DIY tools and homeware and accessories.

Even in it’s founding country in Malaysia, the establishment has a large presence and a home grown enterprise with over 600 stores throughout APEC. Out of this, over half of them (330 outlets) are situated within all over Malaysia itself. Just this month, the chain had entered the Singapore market with their first store in Jurong East.

Offerings under one roof

Furthermore, the establishment touts over 20,000 products offered in each store. Mr DIY claims supporting this a supply chain providing quality products sourced directly from reputed global manufacturers, with claimed assurance of providing the most reasonable prices for customers. Lets check out it for ourselves, by taking a walk around and check out the Mr DIY store in Westgate Singapore.

The outlet entrance in Westgate Jurong East
The outlet entrance in Westgate Jurong East.

In a nutshell, items on sale range from household items like hardware, gardening & electrical to stationery, sports, car accessories, toys and even jewelry and cosmetics. Things you won’t really expect to find in a hardware store.

One of the central aisles in the store
One of the central aisles in the store.

Upon entering the store, visual confirmation does say yes, this is indeed a hardware store. The store during my visit is lightly packed, with mostly curious on-lookers checking out the new establishment tucked in the upper corners of the mall.

You get most of the hardware items displayed up front. Also, you do have a healthy selection of tools. You get the usual bells and whistles you expect. You can find hammers, lots of hammers in all shapes, sizes and materials. Cutting tools, saws, measuring equipment. Though you will be hard pressed to find more expensive and sophisticated measuring devices such as digital level and laser range finders.

For the casual DIYer, not the pros

I find Mr DIY offerings good for mass-market or people who are light DIYers and starting to enter into the world of Home Improvement or getting their hands dirty. Their offerings are good for like a cheap set of tools to keep around the house for occasional light use.

A part of the hardware section, comprising of measuring and assorted adjustment tool sorted by brand offerings
A part of the hardware section, comprising of measuring and assorted adjustment tool sorted by brand offerings.

Moreover, almost all the items on sale are from an unknown brands with questionable quality. Fancy a COIDO branded handheld vacuum cleaner? Or an INCCO spanner set? You can’t find any from reputable names in the DIY business like Stanley, Leatherman, Craftsman, Facom, Apex, Emerson, Fortive, Bosch or even ITW.

Tool boxes in all sizes and shapes
Tool boxes in all sizes and shapes!

Moreover, I can tell people who really know their hardware and tools won’t actually buy their tools from MR DIY. Also, these people I believe are not part of Mr DIY primary target market. As a person myself who does carpentry and builds my own furniture at home, I find it difficult to see myself investing into the tools I find on sale. They just don’t look lasting or heavy-duty for the taking.

Huge choices of tape for any desired sticky situation
Huge choices of tape for any desired sticky situation.

However, items I might get could include certain light-duty or one-off consumable items, such as paint rollers, tape, measuring tapes or simple bubble levers. But don’t expect adjustment tools like screwdrivers, spanners or drill bits to last with prolonged use.

In the areas where the store does not shine in quality, makes up for quantity. The choices and range of hardware items are very diverse. This rivals even home grown Self-fix and Home-fix DIY stores in Singapore. They can’t compete with Mr DIY in terms of the variety of goods on sale.

More than a hardware store

Furthermore, I found their product offerings are very diverse for a hardware store. Other notable items, includes personal protection equipment (PPE) such as helmets, safety boots and overalls. As well as painting protection gear. You definitely can’t find this is your typical shopping mall DIY shop.

Personal Protection Equipment section, bringing Puah Chu Kang yellow boots to the masses you say
Personal Protection Equipment section, bringing Puah Chu Kang yellow boots to the masses you say?

In the lifestyle section, you can find some good bargains, like brandless medium-sized backpacks, pouches and bags going for under $20. They are a good alternative to those offered in your typical traveling Pasir Malam (night market) pop up stores in Singapore.

An entire row devoted to car accessories, in car-lite Singapore
An entire row devoted to car accessories, in car-lite Singapore?

The car accessories section is probably one of the largest you can find in Singapore, even rivaling the biggest of Daiso stores.

Brandless bag and backpacks on sale. Some do look pretty trendy if you don't mind the lack of a known brand
Brandless bag and backpacks on sale. Some do look pretty trendy if you don’t mind the lack of a known brand.

Household section

The household section is one of the larger sections the store. I think is could be one of the more popular sections. It comprises of a mix of electrical appliances, kitchen ware, kitchen, cooking utensils and even footwear (slippers, socks and mats).

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Household pots and pans
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Brooms, in many sizes
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Huge selection of plastic bottles

Topping up the household section is a huge selection of plastic bottles, kitchen ware, brooms as well as toys. Yes, toys, the section is actually pretty large. Most of the toys are plasticity looking Chinese brandless toys. They are sold rather cheaply.

Quite a large section of Plastic toys, comprising of cars, imitation Lego and party items
Quite a large section of Plastic toys, comprising of cars, imitation Lego and party items.

Simply put, for a visiting family, Mr DIY is a store which not only daddy will be happy shopping in there to fill up his new boxset of tools, but for mom to marvel at the kitchen section with new cooking pots and utensil, while the kids play at the toys section. You will be hard pressed to see that you can even do that in an equivalent Home Depot or B&Q outlet.

Footwear section in a hardware shop. This is starting to look pretty Daiso like
Footwear section in a hardware shop. This is starting to look pretty Daiso like.

Also, this product variation strategy is paying off well for Mr DIY. It could be an attempt to diversify their market offerings. Myself having visited a couple of Mr DIY stores in Malaysia. More often, I tend to see myself buying household items other than actual hardware items.

However, I find the initial selection here may have limited applicability to the Singapore market. This initial selection like the large car and toy section may not cater well to Singapore needs and could be tweaked and refined to consumer needs over time.

A place for arts and crafts

Moreover, I was welcomed by the rather comprehensive Arts and crafts section. It is quite a one-stop place not just for tools, but for crafts too. This could add some competition to current stores in the market such as Spotlight or Art Friend.

The arts and crafts section
The arts and crafts section.

The party gifts and packaging section is impressive too. I found their offerings tad a mix of what is offered by Daiso and Japan Home in Singapore.

A Malaysian shopping experience at Singapore prices

The items sold are similar to the offerings in Malaysia in terms of variety, but not much on price. Items sold here are consistently more expensive than equivalent MR DIY offerings in Malaysia. I guess this could be due to higher mall rents and overheads, coupled with the capitalization on the affluence of the target market here in Singapore.

Despite the more expensive pricing than in Malaysia, I found Mr DIY offerings sits nicely between Daiso on quality and mainstream heartland Hardware stores (e.g. Self-fix, etc) in Singapore. This puts Mr DIY nicely in the low-to-mid end hardware market segment here. It does cater well to the masses, where the bulk of the market really is.

Moreover, give and take increase in cost given currency conversions, the prices are however, still lower than most DIY shops in Singapore. Also, despite the number of MR DIY stores in Johor, maybe paying an extra cash premium may be worth the convenience or time-saved by not having to go across the causeway just to save a few dollars. And I think this convenience is what Mr DIY aims to address here.

All in all, I found Mr DIY entry into Singapore a welcome. It is bold move, but I find it difficult to find a unique selling proposition for the store here. This is also considering that Singapore does not have a DIY culture embedded to begin with. Even today, we are more a service-dependent society than doing it ourselves.

That is where I found Mr DIY’s strange but quirky broad range of merchandise (on top of tools) coming into play, which is odd even for a hardware store. You will definitely see me back in-store, though I may find it hard-pressed to purchase something.

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