Discount Retailing in India

This weekend I ran a few errands and stocked up on some missing house supplies. I was especially keen on finding hangers, an electric kettle (to boil drinking water in case I run out of bottled water) and a coffee maker.

I had heard that Big Bazaar might be a good place to check out as it is a discount store. It was described to me as a Walmart, Indian style. I asked my driver to take me to Ambience Mall area, where I believed there to be a nearby Big Bazaar. Big Bazaar is on the low end of the shopping, and Ambience Mall is decidedly on the high end w/ stores like Nine West, Calvin Klein, and The Body Shop. So, when my driver insisted that Big Bazaar was located within the mall, I objected. Surely, you wouldn't find high end shopping and Walmart style retailing coexisting in the same mall. The sheer economics of it make no sense. All things aside, I'd been to this mall just last week, and didn't see the Big Bazaar anywhere in the mall.

Rather confidently, I walked into Ambience expecting to call my driver in 5 minutes to tell him we needed to go next door, or down the street. However, after a little snooping, and the help of a Reliance (think Best Buy) sales clerk, I found the Big Bazaar. Buried in the basement of the mall, down two levels of escalators I found Indian Xanadu.

Describing this place as Wal-mart doesn't give the store enough credit. Big Bazaar has everything from clothes, electronics, housewares, groceries, jewelery, books, refrigerators... You name it, they sell it. It is a cross between Wal-mart, Chinatown & Ikea.

All around the store were bins of odds and ends that looked like they fell off a shipping boat in the south china sea. I found more odd pieces of molded hyper-color plastic thing-a-ma-jigs here than on Canal Street NYC. On top of the guady & overwhelming display of items, the PA system was in a permanent state of frenzy with voices yelling out the special of the hour. For the next 60 minutes, purchase one do-it-yourself home fumagation kit (don't laugh, I found one), get one free! Every once in a while, you would get an announcement for a lost child, or stranded grandmother looking for help.

After over an hour I went to check out. My bag was overflowing with my purchases. I bought 25 red hangers, a can opener, two bath towels, face wash cloths, aluminum foil, and a fruit & vegatable peeler. My total? about 5 USD dollars. Nearly every item I purchased was buy one, get one free. While the store is hardly posh, the staff was surprisingly helpful. I'd definitely go back again, just for the experience.