Update for Week ended 18 January 2013
Radha was a compulsive shopper. She liked to visit Linking Road for her shoe and footwear shopping, Colaba Causeway for her knickknacks and the malls for the clothes. And when there is an offer of Upto 50% Off! Or Flat 40% off!, she was not one who could resist. So she dashed off that weekday morning. Now, on a usual morning, she has enough chores and activities to fill the morning and spill over beyond noon, but not on that day. She was eager to grab her hands on some good bargains, so she left early enough to be “early” at the sale. The mall was not a vast one like many people are used to in many parts of India or elsewhere or even in the suburbs of Mumbai – but a smallish building that housed a medicine factory many years ago and had failed trying to be a successful mall at least thrice… and this time around was a large department store spread over 4 floors. Now, South Mumbai residents are not the types to troop down to a mall to get their hands on lower than marked price goodies, or are they, wondered Radha, when she was headed to this store masquerading as a mall in South Mumbai. She was there at 11 am – half an hour after store opening, and she was greeted with a sea of humanity! There were women of many hues and shapes, lugging what looked like bundles of cloth in shoulder bags of the store. She even saw some men dressed like they would be if they were in office – formal shirts, trousers, black shoes and the ubiquitous Identity Badge strung around their necks… Radha looked for some trendy western clothes and was surprised to see a mother and daughter pair checking out the shelves. The mother had picked up a blouse and showed it to the girl, with a “how is it?” look on her face. The girl found it nice and hesitatingly said, “but mom, isn’t that a tad large for me?” to which the mom retorted, “this is not for you dear, it is for me”. Radha was shocked, or rather double shocked! First of all, here was a schoolgirl in her school uniform shopping with her mom during school hours, and then you have a mother who is trying to dress up like a teenager! Radha would have liked to shop, but she wanted to try out a few of the items before deciding on which ones to buy. The trial rooms already had queues that almost led out to the store entrance/exit… and Radha could not wait, so she picked up a cotton blouse that she felt would fit her well, and walked to the cash counter. On regular days, this is one part of the store that has only 2 – 3 staff members who bill, remove the magnetic shoplifter tag, fold and ask you that million percent profit making question, “do you want a carry bag?” But today, there were at least half a dozen of them mechanically doing the billing, removing the shoplifter’s tag, folding and a few more joining in the Million percent profit making question, “do you want carry bags?” With the bag loads that the women were lugging to the cash counter, the store owners were sure to cover up for the 40% sale on the clothing by the multiple plastic bags that they would add to the bill. Who really cared about the environment, especially not retailers!
The D Street Boyz also looked to making an announcement this week, as they ended last week kissing the SENSEX at 20,000 but had to pucker their lips before it descended and closed much lower at 17663. And with the announcement of the sale, the buyers were here in droves. The Foreigners, the Indians, the aunties in their nighties, everyone wanted a share of the celebrations at D Street when it would touch and stay at 20,000. And the sale tags were enough to attract attention. There was much shoving and pushing and jostling but no haggling as the Boyz bought and kept admiring their SENSEX as it climbed up and up till it crossed 20,000 and ended the week at 20,039.
Radha’s turn at the turnstile came, and she tossed up the blouse and pushed forward her credit card. A flummoxed cashier kept looking questioningly for more clothes to land up on his table. And then he asked the question, “anything else, Ma’am.” Radha smiled, “that’s it.” And after billing, removing the magnetic shoplifter’s tag, folding it and out of habit, asking Radha the million percent profit making question – “do you want a carry bag?” Radha extended her arm and said “no.” The cashier’s face almost fell to his knees, as he could see his bonus being clipped because of this unusual shopper. After signing her credit card charge slip, Radha took the folded blouse and folded into a neat bundle that she stuffed into her thin shoulder sling purse and cheerily walked towards the exit. On seeing the security guard, she did the usual extension of the shopping bill for his scrutiny and stamp. He looked at it and when he noticed that Radha was not carrying any bag, he was stunned. Radha didn’t bat an eyelid, and opened the zipper of her sling purse, and pulled out the neatly folded blouse for his inspection, and she was out of the store. She passed by mothers dragging their children in school uniforms into the store for shopping. She looked at her watch and it was 1 pm. Time for her to head home in time for her seven year old to be back from school in half an hour.
How many shopping expeditions have you gone to this week? Please share you experience with me, just like how Radha shared hers…