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Chennai's one-stop shops

The plush plazas and malls that have come up in the city ensure that shopping is a fun-filled experience for the whole family.

`SHOP TILL you drop'would not have meant much to Chennai-ites some years ago, but the scenario is entirely different today. If supermarkets were the sensation of the 1980s, the mega shopping plazas of today have transformed shopping into a family outing.

Gone are the days of dimly lit, and cramped supermarkets, their shelves stacked with clothes, and glum or indifferent staff to cater to your requirements. Designer arcades these days have imaginative lighting and well-trained staff, who explain the finer aspects of garments and even the colour combination that would suit the personality of a buyer. Malls are designed with special ramps, especially for the convenience of the physically-challenged.

"Our focus is on teenagers. The ambience has been specially designed such that buyers have sufficient space to move around. The apparel is displayed to allow buyers get a feel of the various garments, even try them out before deciding to buy them," explains T. K. Krishnaswamy, regional head and proprietor of the Rs. 35-lakh, 2,200 sq ft. Provogue Studio at Spencer Plaza on Anna Salai, which specialises in polynosic attire.

"We have positioned Chennai as the second major metropolis, next to Mumbai, and are negotiating with a five-star hotel to set up an exclusive studio,which would function as a shop during the day and a lounge bar at night. This is only the tip of an iceberg. Chennai's fashion scene is all set undergo a transformation in the days to come," says Mr. Krishnaswamy.

It's a buyers market all the way and the one-stop shops make choice difficult. "We have a mind-boggling range of 4,000 pairs of shoes, sandals and moccasins and as wide a selection of sports, formal wear and casual wear. There is a colourful variety of slippers too, especially for children," says Chitra Ramakrishnan, a senior executive in a multi-national bank. Conceived with the objective of bringing global standards to the organised retail sector in the country, the upmarket mall offers a wide choice of branded garments for men and women. There is an exclusive section for the tiny tots and teenagers too.

The family element in such shops is the amusement corner for children. Shoppers feel more people would visit such complexes if they operated courtesy coaches from important landmarks to the stores as it would eliminate parking problems.

For the salaried class, predominantly the lower and middle income segments, the six-storeyed Pothy's Shopping Arcade on Usman Road in busy T. Nagar offers virtually every thing, with evey floor catering for different segments of shoppers," S. Ramesh, managing partner of Pothy's explains. Air-conditioned comfort and rest rooms make shopping a blissful experience. Ramesh adds that they are trying to come up with a solution to the parking problem.

Besides, the showrooms displaying international labels, the pavement vendors of Pondy Bazaar who sell export rejects also do brisk business.

If the multi-storeyed Spencer Plaza is a haunt for people of all ages, Globus and Life Style cater to a more elite clientele.

"At Globus, provide a personal touch with our created data base of gold and premium and elite membership. We want to provide value added service to these 5,000 clientele by providing a separate billing counter, parking facility and home delivery. Gift coupons, cakes to celebrate their birthdays and food coupons for wedding anniversaries are offered, thereby making the interface with our trained staff an experience to cherish," explains Shobhit Arora, CEO, Globus chain of shopping malls.

Billed as a "fashionable one stop shop", the 30,000 sq ft Life Style retail outlet at Alwarpet provides the right ambience and virtually has "everything under one roof" ensuring that shopping is a fun-filled experience for the whole family."We strive to make shopping not only affordable but also an enjoyable weekend outing," explains a senior marketing executive.


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