It may seem experimental, but a small section of Mumbai-based
retail traders have decided do something that can be replicated
by small local traders in different parts of the country,
across major food commodities.
Mumbai Mewa Masala Merchants Association, a little known
trade body outside the city''s trading hotspots, comprises
around 60 traders who deal mainly in dry fruits. They
have their retail outlets concentrated in the Masjid Bunder
area, a few minutes drive from downtown Fort area in South
the first time, the association is launching what it calls
a mega shopping festival to aggressively market dry fruits
over an extended period of over 10 weeks, i.e. 25 August
to 14 November, which coincides with a series of major
Indian festivals such as Ganesh Chathurthi, Navrathri
and Diwali, during which the demand for dry fruits sees
an exponential expansion.
festival is a clear strike against the new age retail
format malls as the small Dry fruit retailers perceive
mushrooming shopping malls a threat to their business.
A shopping festival is a sure-fire way to attract customers
and promote sales, they feel.
retail traders in the dry fruits business argue that they
are better equipped than malls to meet the specific needs
of discerning customers, on account of highly personalised
service, and the sheer variety (different qualities, grades,
sizes, prices) they offer. Malls, on the other hand, score
on visibility, but have a limited range of products.
average price of products at the mewa festival is assured
to be almost 30 per cent lower than the product line up
at malls. Clearly, small retailers are set to score on
product variety, and personalised service, in the face
of pressure on their profit margins. They are also set
to do one more thing - convert the traditional dry fruit
retail shopping experiences into a more pleasant and friendly
commercial Masjid Bunder area in Mumbai, home to virtually
the metro''s entire wholesale market till recently, has
a history dating back almost 200 years. It was the wholesale
market for several other commodities, until most wholesale
markets were shifted across the harbour to the twin city
Navi Mumbai''s Vashi area in the ''80s and the ''90s to help
decongest the metro.
60-odd mewa (dry fruit) merchants have been in business
for generations, and have decided to add some aggressiveness
to their sales pitch. Customer trust and confidence, parameters
largely unaddressed by modern retail formats, are something
that these small retailers specialise in, having developed
their goodwill over generation, which they believe will
stand them in good stead.
decorated shops, lucky draws, and cash prizes further
sweeten the deal for customers who do decide to give up
the airconditioned, clinically clean malls for a more
authentic ''Indian - bazaar'' experience.