Even the new malls nearby haven’t dented the steady fortunes of Bazaar Street

If you come from a village or a small town with a large place of worship, Bazaar Street in Ulsoor would look familiar.

Four temples line the street among many others in the by-lanes, with a centenary church and a mosque added for good measure. Such a street automatically becomes a bazaar as well, built on the tradition of visiting a temple as a family’s evening out and buying a little something as well.

Classy to eccentric

The smell of fresh flowers mingles with that of holy ash, turmeric, lamp oil and old stone. Chaats, vada and bajji add their aromas to the atmosphere. Biryanis, idlis and sambar do their bit during lunch and dinner time.

With bites of this and that, a tired shopper can journey forward, buying footwear for Rs. 100 a pair, organic turmeric powder, badminton racquets and tennis balls, the list goes on.

Sandwiched between the sheen of M.G. Road and the swanky new Metro railway, the 80-year-old market keeps up with changing times, and how!

The cheery attitude and sell-all capacity that these businessmen depict is quite strangely infectious. From classy to eccentric, everything sells. Mahaveer Jain, owner of a store called a ‘matching colour bank’ in this part of town, says, “Our 55-year-old matching centre has 3,000 colours of blouse pieces and designer saris. My grandfather opened this store and now I run it.”

Walls adorned with black-and-white photos of grandfathers and granduncles with legacies of trade and customer satisfaction being preserved by grandsons and grandnephews is the story of almost every business establishment in this bazaar. These stores have seen trends evolve, fashions go and return.

Jashwant Raj, owner of Mangalam Silks, says, “When we started in the 70s, business would be brusque only between the first and 10th of the month. Now you see the power of the pocket, anything sells, credit cards are there and every day is an occasion to buy.”

Fashion observers

“It is interesting to see how what we sold 15 years ago is back in fashion and demand — kurtis, leggings, dhotis,” observes Asif, owner of a clothing store. “In this market, there are shops as small as 6-by-8 square feet like Mothi Jewellers with two floors, and as big as Mangalam Silks at 20-by-90 square feet.”

He also feels that rentals have been reasonable in the area, and the coming of malls nearby has affected neither the rent nor their sales.

“New tenants pay around Rs. 35,000 for a shop space, while the old ones pay around Rs. 7,000. The annual hike is only 5 per cent,” he says. “Mall culture is different. Even I visit a mall, but am not crazy to spend there. Only those with very large disposable incomes spend in malls.”

It is this price consciousness of their customers that keeps their business going steady and also keeps the rents stable, he opines.