Cover for your car? Head to Ramanan Road, Sowcarpet, where the czars of the trade flourish
The tarpaulin sellers on Ramanan Road seldom give no for an answer, especially when it comes to car covers. Shops on this nondescript stretch in Sowcarpet and a few others on nearby Waltax Road supply cotton, nylon and plastic tarpaulin sheets that meet a wide spectrum of needs, including a demand for shamianas, tent houses and fish nets, but these traders are truly the czars of the car cover trade.
For car models established in the market, they deliver cotton and plastic covers straightaway. For recently launched models and those on the verge of entering the market, they take a day. “When the launch of a model is round the corner, the car manufacturer publicises its dimensions. This information is available on the Internet.” explains Manohar T. Jain of Madras Canvas Co. “Easy access to such information allows us to make covers for any car. Brio or Benz, we cover them all!”
They also have a chart that classifies car models based on their dimensions. “Comparable cars hardly differ in size and we create covers that fit most of those in a given category,” explains Manohar.
While car covers ensure brisk retail business, a huge profit lies in the wholesale of tarpaulin to the four southern States. “It is a seasonal business; the monsoon creates a demand for protection,” says Devendra Jain of Madura Tarpaulin.
The majority of these shops on Ramanan Road boast a long history and the traders claim they have dominated the tarpaulin business and don't feel threatened by the sellers in other areas, such as Nehru Market on Sydenhams Road.
“The tarpaulin trade has sunk its roots deep in this area. It started with Keshri Mal Betalal and B.C. Jain, who set up shops on Waltax Road. It has reached a stage where cotton tarpaulin is locally manufactured. Plastic and nylon sheets are largely sourced from manufacturing units in Gujarat,” says Manohar.
“In the last 15 years, tarpaulin shops have mushroomed on Ramanan Road, making it a hub for the trade. When it rains, some think of Ramanan Road.”