Attack of the Kiranas

Garuda MallI read this interesting story in Business Today, March 25 edition:

“In possibly the first of its kind experiment, some 3000 mom-n-pop stores in Rajkot Gujarat have come together to take on modern retailers.”

Ever since Iscon Prozone Mall opened in Rajkot, it seems these local Kiranas have seen a decline in their businesses. Not just that, some claim to have lost employees as well. So what is the plan of action? Hunger strike against big retailers? Nope. This is Gujarat, and that was West Bengal. There is a reason these two states are near opposite ends of our country :)

Their idea is to join hands and:

“become more organized in terms of how they buy and sell, and how they manage their inventories and customers”.

Join hands to develop nice roads and pavements in those chaotic market lanes, build large shared warehouses, use collective buying power to negotiate better when sourcing goods – sounds like a good idea, isn’t it? Its like building a large retail business from grounds up. Advantage – domain knowledge, no hiring pressure! Disadvantage – old world mindset, technology. Let us see how this cooperative idea does.

If this model can make them offer similar prices as large retailers, its easy to see how these guys can manage to survive and match the big guys. Imagine a redone Gandhinagar shopping area with all the very “Indian” hustle bustle but none of the old world chaos. Chaos as in dirty pavements, no place to walk and park, ugly street furniture, stuffy small stores and more. This shopping area could then sell the ‘old world yet modern’ charm, its proximity and personal touch.

Or imagine this, my favorite one. Somewhere in Bangalore, there is to be a lane called ‘chat street’. This is a place all gaadi fellows built by pitching together their clout and resources. They sell the gaadi taste, in their unique personal styles. And the best part, they got the hygiene to match any branded fast food chain in the country. Now, if this dream were to come true, would you still go to a McDonald’s for fries? I wont!

Back from dreams to the topic. Can the soon-to-be-old-world mom-n-pop shops do it? If you know our country, you know that individualism is Indian, collective wisdom and cooperation is not. But I will be interested in knowing how this Rajkot experiment goes.

PS: Does anyone know if the new malls in MG Road area have impacted Commercial Street businesses? Not yet perhaps, as there is big enough consumer base for all of them to survive in this growing city.


8 Responses

  1. that is a great initiative.

    afa your other idea goes, here’s an us vs them

    Tokyo, Japan 071

    foto credits
    carlitos and sam rohn

    also check

  2. I think this is a fantastic initiative. Can’t be applauded enough. One of the great things about non-violent action is how powerless a person confronting it is. In this case, what can a modern retailer do? The kirana stores are doing nothing illegal and so he cannot take them to the courts. He can’t accuse them of property destruction, etc. He, at best, can try to make sure that they don’t succeed in uniting.

    (IMHO)The success of this initiative will depend on how quickly they can come out with a clear set of objectives and guiding principles and how long can they stay true to those objectives and principles. There will be conflicting interests even within the broad agreement. How will they resolve these? What sort of legal framework will oversee this? What does one do with free riders?

    Would love to see how they progress.

  3. pranav….
    that last post is not by me.


  4. I know tarle. NRI dude’s IP address told me. He is into the business of faking ids now, he left a bunch of comments like that. Please NRI bro, khsamas bidi saar, maaf kar do yaar.

  5. thanks pal for clarifying this and for helping me with that request.

  6. ITs a damn good idea. Fight fire with fire. Yes!!!

    thanks pranav for the positive vibes.

  7. I think this is the only way the small retailer can survive.. by joining forces…

  8. The kirana guys are taking pocket knives to gun battles. Big retailers have deep pockets that will sustain them through a long period of price war which will bankrupt the little kirana guys. This is a rigged game. This is what big retailers in US did to mom-n-pop stores.

    The service level is terrible in any corporate owned shop. Like you said, we don’t have cooperative spirit within us. We also lack a sense of service. I still think small shop owners are better at attending to you than the big retailers. Perhaps the kirana guys can exploit these weaknesses and engage in guerrilla tactics to be successful. This also requires a lot of cooperation and discipline which we lack :)

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