Sarinah’s History Revisited by Kompas

On 20th May 2018, Sarinah and its long history became the focus of an article in Kompas.com – the online news portal of Indonesia’s longest-running newspaper Kompas. The article, quoting a Kompas story from August 1965, elaborated Sarinah as the pioneer retail hotspot that housed a movie theatre, restaurants, as well as services such as tailors and barbers. The department store’s location on Jalan MH Thamrin in Jakarta, was inaugurated in 1966 and became the city’s first skyscraper; standing at 74 metres tall consisting of 15 stories.

Sarinah was pioneered by President Soekarno — Indonesia’s first president — who envisioned Indonesia transforming into a major commercial centre. The company’s name was a tribute to the president’s caretaker, Ms Sarinah, who taught him to love and appreciate the people. Soekarno hoped Sarinah would help drive Indonesia’s economy by becoming a stimulator, mediator, and distributor to SMEs and communities across the archipelago.

In November 1966 Sarinah opened three new floors and a basement, selling various products including apparel and accessories, homeware, as well as food supplies. In 1992, the department store then diversified into retailing handicrafts, providing assistance to numerous local artisans and SMEs specialising in this unique artform. As handicrafts became increasingly sought after, Sarinah rearranged its third and fourth floors to house more than 8,000 types made by some 470 craftsmen – making it Indonesia’s largest and most complete handicrafts centre.

Sarinah’s long history has seen its reputation as a must-see shopping destination in the heart of Jakarta. Since its establishment over fifty years ago, Sarinah has become the most trusted source of quality local products from the archipelago. Success in this regard stems from the company’s founding mission of collaborating with SMEs to identify goods that not only appeal to an increasingly well-healed local population but also to overseas buyers.