‘Sunday Market’ has survived time and has 200-odd shops selling furniture, pets, clothes and tools.

On a first glance from outside, the Thilagar Thidal Market complex hardly has any of the tell-tale signs or noise of a market. Even when one walks in, there are no sounds of vendors calling out to people or chaos. But the market is filled with people at any given point of time who are making their way through the never-ending row of shops in search of the perfect place to sell or buy goods.

“For sale and purchase of old scrap, second-hand machine parts and used work tools, there is no better place than here,” says V. Angurajan, a shopkeeper at the ‘Sunday Market.’

True to his declaration, the Thilagar Thidal market, popularly known as the ‘Sunday Market,’ has survived time and has 200-odd shops stocking everything from furniture, pets, second-hand clothes to Ayurvedic medicines and tools.

History

“While the market started functioning roughly 70 years ago as a ‘Sunday’ and ‘Wednesday’ bazaar, it transformed into a daily market in 1989. Most of the shopkeepers here have carried on their family business for two to three generations,” says M. Karuppasamy, secretary of the Thilagar Thidal Market Traders’ Welfare Association.

“People who frequent the market come looking for second-hand goods sold at low prices. Many of these shopkeepers selling second-hand furniture, electronic and iron goods have expanded their business and now sell new products as well,” he adds.

The market also used to be a once famed spot for holding public meetings in the city, especially during the freedom struggle which is why it might have got the name “Thilagar” after Bal Gangadhar Tilak, historians say.

“There was a raised platform in the market which used to be where the meetings were held. In 1969, I attended a meeting there when political leader Ma.Po.Si addressed hundreds of people,” said historian C. Santhalingam.

Favoured items

“Business has increased for the shops selling electronic goods here in the last decade with the technology boom and we have customers coming in to sell old computers, radios, stereos and television sets,” states P. Suresh, who has an electronic goods shop.

The shop also has a collection of old records of film songs from the 50s and 60s, which Mr. Suresh says, has found favour among people now.

The market is also a haunt for daily wage labourers and poor people who buy second-hand clothes. “We sell saris and shirts for less than Rs.50 which is lesser than what many people pay to get their clothes laundered these days,” a shopkeeper points out.

P. Karthikeyan, a pet shop owner, opines that while the business has been steady through the years, the Internet has eaten into their second hand purchases and sales.

“There are websites now where people can sell anything, including pets they can’t take care of. Even over social sites such as Facebook, people seem to come across prospective buyers,” he says.

The shopkeepers, who pay a monthly rent to Madurai Corporation, say that the facilities in the market, like toilets and drinking water, are good.

“Despite smaller markets cropping up in the city and the advent of online commerce, our reputation of being the market where one can sell or purchase any product will take a long time to diminish,” concludes Mr. Karuppasamy.

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