BY DAY, Orchard Plaza appears to be the go-to place for smart suits.
There are tailoring shops around its first storey, each with a salesman hanging outside to solicit passers-by to get a suit or two tailored.
At night, a different sort of soliciting happens - the kind associated with sex.
These nocturnal activities last until the early hours of the morning, often till 5am.
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This scene is played out from Cuppage Plaza through Orchard Plaza to Concorde Hotel and Shopping Mall.
However, 22 shop owners and workers told The New Paper that the action is mainly at Cuppage Plaza and Orchard Plaza.
The "action" starts as early as 6pm, with women usually approaching tourists or expats to entice them to patronise the pubs in the two buildings.
"In the day, the shops look so innocent. This is where I usually buy my spectacles," the general manager of two KTV lounges in Orchard Plaza said.
The 63-year-old, who wanted to be known only as Mr Zhuang, added: "But come after dark and you will see this place transformed into little Ginza with many Japanese men patronising the businesses here. "This area is also the little sex secret of Orchard Road," he said, adding that the vice activities give the area a bad image.
In neighbouring Cuppage Plaza, Ms Goh Mui Tuan, a masseuse who works on the second storey, said she often sees "lots of call girls" looking for customers after 8pm.
She said she often saw 10 to 15 Thai women loitering on different floors of the mall.
She added: "As for the men in the mall, they are usually Japanese in their 20s and 30s, perhaps businessmen."
Checks showed that these women are freelancers and are not employed by the nightclubs in the area, though they do patronise the clubs to pick up men.
While Orchard Towers at the other end of Orchard Road has been notorious for its "four floors of whores" for years, the Orchard Plaza area turned sleazy more recently.
And the activities are still less obvious than in well-known red light areas such as Geylang and Joo Chiat.
Still, shop owners like Mr Dilip Belani, 52, a tailor in Orchard Plaza, said: "This has become like a second Orchard Towers."
A masseuse who identified himself as Chris, 47, described it as "another Joo Chiat".
Mr Belani recalled that the area was "clean and family-oriented" about five years ago.
The area later became known as "Little Japan" for its Japanese restaurants and karaoke lounges to cater to the mainly Japanese tourists staying in the hotels nearby.
The economic slump in 2008 saw fewer Japanese arrivals and the departure of expatriates.
Then more pubs and massage parlours moved in, followed by adult shops and the inevitable sleaze.
Shop owners believe the main reason for the change is the low rental coupled with lack of quality control.
One shopowner, who declined to be named, said he pays about $4,000 a month for his shop space, which would have cost him $10,000 in other buildings nearby.
He said: "Half the shops here are rented out by private landlords who probably don't have strict criteria for types of businesses that can operate here."
A Filipina named Wendy, who owns a clothes shop on the third storey, does not feel safe.
Since moving there five months ago, she has been told by friends and staff in neighbouring units to leave before 8pm to avoid being mistaken for a prostitute.
She realised how sleazy the place had become when she went into one of the pubs there.
Some of her regular customers, also Filipinas, had invited her to one of the pubs where they worked. She went there with two friends, thinking there would be a live band.
She got a shock when she saw darkened rooms, silhouettes of women moving around and men cavorting with them.
She said: "My two friends scolded me and asked me to get out. So we left."
Several shop owners said they had complained to the management many times.
As a result, a worker in a clothes shop said, CCTV cameras were placed outside the massage parlours on the second and third storeys.
A walk around the corridors of these shops confirmed this. The worker said this was done to deter those shops from offering sexual services.
He said: "But we would not know what goes on inside since those shops are covered by curtains or tinted windows."
He claimed that police had raided these shops many times.
At least three of the shop owners we spoke to said they were thinking of leaving once their lease is up. The others were undecided.
A typical response was that of Mr Belani's: "Leave to go where?"
He said his current location was convenient for his regular customers.
Some, like Mr Akbar Ali, 52, partner of an Indian restaurant, saw no reason to move since his business was unaffected by the less savoury aspects of the mall.
"They don't disturb me...I don't disturb them. We just mind our own business," he said.
But Cathy, a masseuse, said: "Why should clean businesses like us move out? The sleaze should be cleaned up.
"This shopping centre should become family-friendly again so we can earn a clean living and feel safe."
The sleaze has also spread to adjacent Concorde Hotel and Shopping Mall (formerly known as Le Meridien Shopping Centre), said shop owners and customers there.
Mr Frankie Ng, 48, a massage centre owner, said he has noticed women who are working in the "not so clean" massage parlours standing outside. They often shout to solicit for customers and offer extra services.
He said: "Some tourists said they will avoid this area next time because they are not comfortable." The competition from dodgy massage parlours affected his business, he added.
There were three massage centres there when he opened in the late 90s. Now there are more than 10.