With hawkers moving into a complex, Pondy Bazaar is clutter-free. But some people miss the chaos, says Vipasha Sinha

It feels as if Pondy Bazaar has lost its character. The ever-bustling stretch has turned into what now looks like a stadium ransacked by fans after their stars failed to turn up. The pavements of Pondy Bazaar, from where a horde of hawkers had been conducting their businesses for years, are now dug up and set for an overhaul.

The residents, showroom owners and the commuters must have been relieved to see the back of the vendors, who have now moved into the hawkers complex. But this turn of events has caused disappointment among a section of shopkeepers. They miss the experience of having to wade through a sea of people to grab the best pick.

Chandini Suresh, who was wandering through the complex says, “It’s not like shopping on the street. That’s probably because I had been street-shopping at Pondy Bazaar since school days. Also, I derived pleasure from bringing others here. But what is the fun when you take the ‘street’ out of shopping.”

Budget shopping on streets involves bargaining. It isn’t the same at the complex.

“Many shopkeepers still haven’t had their first sale,” says V.K. Mohammed Ali, who sold footwear at Pondy Bazaar (outside Lee Showroom) and has moved to Shop No. 268 at the new complex.

He adds: “My father sold footwear on the streets of T. Nagar and then I joined him. We have been doing business for years. We had a huge space opposite the Lee Showroom, with hundreds of footwear on display and I had one staff to help me. In the new 5X5 space, I can entertain only one customer at a time. Sales have dropped considerably.

Mohammed Ali believes that once people get used to the complex business will pick up.

With availability of more parking space, showroom owners on the stretch expect people with purchasing power to visit Pondy Bazaar more often than they used to us.

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