Hundreds of shoppers turn up for ‘Kalakal KS Mela’ organised by the online shopping group Kovai Shopping at Sri Purandaradasar Hall

Manoj Nichani is intrigued by the coughing and screaming ashtray. It is designed like a pair of lungs that will start coughing and screaming when someone tips ash on it. This is meant to warn ardent smokers to kick the butt.

His attention then shifts to a bottle of wine which looks like it is on a rope stand and a chocolate scented calculator. “I normally don’t spend more than a few minutes shopping, but some of the stalls here have interesting products,” he says.

Thirty seven stalls showcase products at the two-day Kalakal KS Mela on at the Purandaradasar Hall in R.S. Puram. A number of shoppers who have been selling their products exclusively online have put up their stalls for display at the venue.

Gadgets, personalised message mugs, hand made paper quills, palm leaf bags, a robotic body massager, jewellery and dress materials, cup cakes, traditional board games, caricatures and other products are on display.

Regulars at the online Kovai Shopping got to meet the stall owners face to face for the first time.

“I have been making online purchases as shopping malls are crowded and going out to shop is often a stressful experience. I have bought myself saris, hand crafted jewellery, food and other items through Kovai Shopping and was tempted to check the stores on display this time,” said Meena Krishnakumar, who already bought herself a couple of saris at the festival. For some, the mela has served as a soft launch for their store which they plan to launch officially. Others have put up their stalls for the second year in a row, impressed by the healthy patronage the last time around.

“We had 900 people who visited our stalls during the first year of the shopping mela. We are expecting an even bigger turn out this year, as our online membership has increased significantly in one year,” said Vasanthi Ranganathan, one of the founders of Kovai Shopping.

There will also be a cookery competition, Wealth out of Waste programme and a drawing competition for children.

Kalakal KS Mela is on at Sri Purandaradasar Kalaiarangam in R.S. Puram between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. till August 31.