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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Virgin Megastore: Gadgets, Games and Goodies
Once upon a time, over five years ago, Virgin Megastore was the first flagship store to operate in City Stars. This was way back, even before Spinney’s and Casper & Gambini. Virgin megastores took root in virgin territory, and ever since then, the store has been the Nr.1 venue for all things multimedia.
The store is roughly divided up into six sectors: books, consumer electronics, audio CDs, DVDs, Gaming and toys. Even so, the title megastore conjures up images of a sprawling estate, packed to the rafters with all manners of products and a veritable black hole for your monthly salary. Sadly, the reality is that Virgin occupies a space almost the same size as Zara on the same floor, and both are way smaller than Spinney’s. An efficient male shopper can tackle a brisk swim through the aisles in less than five minutes.
However, Zara doesn’t have a great selection of humorous graphic Tees and Spinney’s doesn’t have the hardcover edition of Larousse Gastronomique; so what’s in a space? Virgin, it would seem, is perfect for targeted shopping; procuring Paulo Coelho’s latest mental flatulence, grabbing DVD box sets, picking up more iPod accessories– or indeed an iPod itself.
The books section is remarkably large, and in fact seems to be one of their best performing sectors. The cooking section alone is worth a weekly pilgrimage (to those who are so inclined) and they also have a healthy selection of self-help books with titles like How To Kick Your Addictions…NOW!, et cetera, et cetera. For the aurally inclined, there are CDs– after all, Virgin does have its own music label– ranging from Arabic pop down to ska and punk. Right next to the CD section is the Apple corner, where you can find the latest iPods and Mac books (no iPads yet, sadly) with their accessories.
Almost every item in the toys/tees section is exclusive to Virgin Megastores. Nerf guns, Simpsons t-shirts and other little trinkets will bring out the child in any greying man. A catty corner away, there is an entire wall dedicated to the addiction that is video gaming. This is the place to be if you want to pick up that new Warbeast guitar for your PS3 Guitar Hero. If there ever was a time to take ’two princes‘ literally, then that time would be now. Right behind the toys section is a field of DVDs, Arabic and English alike, as well as along the columns holding the store up. Say what you will about DVDs as a physical media; at least in Virgin Megastores, you will be spoilt for choice.
For a store that seeks to be the jack of all trades, one would worry that it would end up as the master of none. But not so with Virgin; in City Stars, unless you’re shopping for underwear, all roads lead to Virgin.
When you’re on the search for a specific instrument in Cairo, finding exactly what you’re looking for can be a tedious task. We’ve found a guitar shop in Dokki that caters to a fine taste in music brands and offers up a selection of high-quality products that may not be found elsewhere.
Located in Dokki’s Messaha Square and next to the Mobinil Shop, you’ll find Floyd Music Shop on the second floor. Look out for the purple and white signage out front. The friendly attendants are eager to help and while the shop is small in size; its simple layout provides enough room to peruse around without fear of breaking anything.
When it comes to instruments, their selection seems to be focused primarily on guitars. Including a slew of top of the line models and brands, expect to see brand names like Ibanez, Fender and Takamine gracing the price tags with a number to match. For 2150LE, an Ibanez SR300 PW bass comes beautifully designed and well-looked after. If you’re looking for a six-string electric; expect to pay around 4000LE while a Takamine EG523SC Acoustic-Electric was selling for 3995LE at our last time of visit.
Other notable instruments on display included a set of bar chimes by the Latin Percussion company for 435LE. When it comes to accessories, they’re not short on those either. A Washburn amplifier sells for 500LE, while a set of D’Addario steel strings started at 40LE.
If you’re looking to jam out for a while or pick up a new instrument to try; don’t hesitate. Each instrument is easily accessible and there’s plenty of time to try things out before making that big purchase.
While the shop’s general selection might not be as varied as other music shops around; it's a definite go-to place when you have something specific in mind. Seeing as how the majority of the instruments are top-of-the-line products with international brands, you’ll have to be prepared to pay big.