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The Changing Face of Indian Marketplace

I was reading this article about Reliance Fresh shops and the quality they offer. When I read about their rates, the first thing that came to my mind was what would happen to the regular kaikarikaran / sabziwala? They won’t be able to compete with such a venture, surely?

But on second thoughts, I realised that the door-to-door vendor’s market is safe as no one offers what he does. He turns up like clockwork, builds up a good rapport with his customers, chats them up and cajoles them to buy more than they intended and if you have a special do in your house, he could be relied on to bring you some extra special veg, at a special rate, of course! As no Reliance Fresh or any of their ilk could offer this, the vendor’s market is safe.

The one that is getting affected by this new chain to hit the market in Chennai is Pazhamudircholai. For the non-Chennaivasis, Pazhamudircholai is the name of an exceptional fruit and veg store that held sway near Kasi Arcade in T Nagar for many years before spreading across the city. This store had the freshest of fruits and vegetables available all year and though they were on a slightly expensive side, they were a very welcome addition to the market place.

Once you set your eyes on their fat, juicy, glistening wares, you cannot walk away without getting your hands on at least a few tempting fruit or that rare veg. They do not employ any ‘buy one get one free’ gimmicks and rely purely on the quality of the items they sell. At the front of each store there is also a man selling fresh juices and he is normally surrounded by hundreds of maamis and aunties, vying with one another to get their hands on the day’s special. The fact that they do takeaways made this hugely popular and highly successful.

This chain of stores quickly built a name for themselves and if one outlet opened in your area, it generally meant that you can now shop for good quality fruit and veg in relative ease. No Food World or Nilgiris could do much to stand in the way of this store’s success – after all, no one went to Food World or Nilgiris to buy their fruit and veg now, did they?

But this new kid on the block, this Reliance Fresh, with its real cheap rates and marketing gimmicks, seems to be changing the status quo. The Reliance Fresh outlet in Ashok Nagar, for example, is right opposite the Pazhamudircholai one and has already stolen most of the latter’s client base. I, for one, am much saddened by this, as I really liked that store and am against the big name brand stores changing the face of the arena anyway. Though this turf war could mean that the public may be well be getting some really good deals (Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda vie with one another here in the UK to inundate us with coupons and other enticing offers) the sort of aggressiveness they display is a big turn off.

Other big disadvantage of having these big name stores coming everywhere is that pretty soon, the local colour will get wiped out. Every market place or mall will have the same group of stores - Reliance, Music World, Landmark, LifeStyle, etc and slowly, the variety and the abundance that exists now will slowly get replaced with this sort of corporate uniformity. In Britain, for example, every High Street boasts of a Body Shop, Marks & Spencer's, Monsoon, Regis, Pizza Hut, Clarks and at least one Tesco or Sainsbury's or Asda store. The smaller shops are slowly going out of business and high streets across the country are all beginning to look eerily the same. It is surreal how familiar a Brentwood High Street looks to a small town high street in Yorkshire.

With every facet of Indian life undergoing radical changes, it won't be too long before we end up with a similar set of circumstances. Though with our population, the Nadar kadais will still have its patrons, I hope that the average Joe has a fighting chance against the big bad corporations. I sure hope so.

Posted by DesiGirl 10:26 am  


  1. Indranil said...
    Retail mein FDI chalu karo....If Walmart comes Reliance would also be history and so wud be the ones like Trinethra and Subhiksha etc...
    Arvind said...
    yeah, doubt that. mom & pop stores dont stand a chance against walmart. so, its gonna be hard for them. pity

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