The Kovai Shopping Group on Facebook is going wild selling, buying and making new friends

Someone wants to know where to find lining paper for cup cakes. Another is looking for a yoga teacher. A third asks for help as the cook is on leave and she wants easy-to-make breakfast ideas. There is raw cotton for spinning yarn up for grabs too. From reusable shopping bags and fashion jewellery to designer dupattas and cake slicers, Kovai Shopping tells you where to find them all.

This Facebook group was started by Vasanthi Ranganath. In less than a month, it has more than 1,700 subscribed members who shop like crazy. Last weekend, a group of them met up at Cream Centre. “It allowed us to put a face to names we had just seen on Facebook. One of the reasons behind setting up Kovai Shopping was to facilitate such get-togethers,” says Vasanthi. Next up is a kids' party organised by some parents in the group.

Promoting local designers

The group has allowed so many hitherto unknown home-grown jewellery and garment designers to showcase their craft. “I thought I was a shopaholic. But I confess I did not know 75 per cent of those who put up their stuff on their page,” says Vasanthi.

The inspiration for setting up the forum was the hugely-popular Bangalore and Chennai shopping groups. Vasanthi did wonder if an FB page would work for Coimbatore because not many are logged on 24x7. The response surprised her. Though women are most active on the forum, there are some men too — Hemant Shah of Girnar Food and Beverages and Rahul Kotecha put up regular posts.

Geeta Sridhar recently bought an exquisite turquoise Pachi pendant and stud from Chitra Dorairaj of Chennai. “I loved the interactive nature of the group. And, I did not hesitate much before making my very first online purchase. Others seemed to know her, so that was comforting. And, the jewellery was very well packed.”

Local designer Megha Asher has sold many garments and one-gram gold coated silver mix jewellery through this forum. “This is a bunch of serious buyers who are looking for value for money. And, they seem to like variety. This group is a great way to share new stuff with all,” she says.

Of late, prices are mentioned alongside the photos. This works to the advantage of the buyers, but Megha hopes that the sellers (from across the country) work in tandem to ensure they don't undercut each other and give buyers the best deal possible. There have been some great deals. Jewellery was offered at a 50 per cent discount during special shopping hours; prizes were given away for guessing the right price of a sari, and so on. This, says Vasanthi, is a great beginning to leverage buyer power to get more discounts and promotions that are exclusive to the group.