With the Tamil Nadu government allowing the opening of tea stalls in non-containment zones in the State, vendors on Monday opened shops to sell parcels of the beverage to customers.
However, restricting the sale to only parcels has not gone down well among the tea stall owners, although a majority of them have resumed their business after a gap of about 45 days.
According to industry sources, there are about 4,000 tea shops in Tiruchi city alone. Nearly 75% of them double up as petty shops that sell tobacco, biscuits and snacks. Out of 4,000 tea shops, it is said that more than 3,000 resumed their business on Monday. But, a section of them, who were unhappy over the State government’s condition on providing only parcel service, preferred to wait for a few more days.
“Our biggest challenge is to retain our skilled tea and bonda masters. We had to shell out money regularly to them. The relaxation has come as some relief, ” said B. Benny, who runs a tea stall at Kumaran Nagar on Vayalur road.
However, most of the tea stalls reported dull business as they were restricted to offer only parcel service.
A. Raja, owner of Naganathar chain of tea stalls, Srirangam, said that he did not open his tea shops as business was not viable if the customers could not be served tea or coffee at the stalls. Customers visited tea stalls to relax and take breaks. They would not come if they were not allowed to sip tea at the stalls, he said.
“On a normal day, our stall usually would attract people from all sections of society. People would hang around discuss business and other issues while having tea. But now they have to bring flasks or will have to take the packets and pour it into glasses at their offices, which would be an inconvenience,” said R. Chandran, a tea vendor near the District Court campus.
The vendors are however, grateful that they have been allowed to work after 40 days. “I have been selling facemasks on my bicycle for a major part of the lockdown. After the norms were relaxed, I opened up my stall to sell snacks and juices, today is the day I can light my stove after a long time,” said another vendor on Vayalur Road.
Meanwhile, motor mechanic shops also opened on Monday. A shop in Woraiyur which had been converted into a vegetable stall has now resumed maintaining and fixing up two-wheelers. “We were able to manage because of switching to vegetable sale, but now that spare parts are also available, we can go back to our normal work,” M. Murugan, a mechanic said.