Tuesday, June 15, 2010


India is a country where retailing of foods is controlled by the so called "pop & mom" stores, about 8 million in number working from small kiosks to large family owned provision stores, spread across every conceivable nook and corner of the country. Advent of modern retailing formats in the form of super markets, departmental stores and hyper markets did make a small dent in the predominance of the small scale stores and in spite of enormous investments by most of the major business tycoons in the retail sector, some with foreign assistance, organized sector still commands less than 5% of the retail market. The foreign investment policy of GOI has restricted the entry of many international players in the retailing field so far but sooner or later under WTO regime and other compulsions, India will have to throw open this sector to foreign players. In case that happens what will be the future of the retail landscape in this country? A new phenomenon called "Pop-Up" stores is emerging in the west and many of the local retail players may adopt this format for survival against the juggernaut of the organized players.

"Starting at 5 p.m. on a recent Wednesday, more than 200 shoppers descended on a red-painted building in an otherwise unremarkable Oakland neighborhood and left with some pretty fancy dinner fixings in their reusable grocery bags. Some carried pounds of boudin blanc sausages from former Eccolo chef-owner Chris Lee, bronze-cut rigatoni from his ex-sous chef Samin Nosrat, or chicken confit from Soul Food Farm. Others took home heat-and-serve potato-chard gratin from Mary Jo Thoresen and Curt Clingman of the recently closed Jojo, or frozen heritage pork gyoza from Sylvan Brackett, who worked in Alice Waters' office before starting his new Peko Peko catering business.By 7 p.m., the shoppers were gone, and the Pop-Up General Store closed down for two or three weeks, leaving local fridges and freezers well stocked with restaurant-quality foods to cook at home. The store is part of the new phenomenon of temporary eateries, farm stands and even one "underground market" that spring up here and there around the Bay Area, sometimes regularly in the same location, sometimes not. But so far the Pop-Up General Store is one of a kind because its wares carry an exceptional pedigree: They're made with pristine ingredients - Becker Lane pork, Soul Food Farm eggs, Riverdog produce - by a dozen or so Bay Area chefs, almost all of whom cook or have cooked at Chez Panisse".

With real estate costs soaring in many urban towns the existing retail shop owners may sell of their stores and get into the pop up store mode to continue with their lives. Probably many consumers might like their well known neighborhood retailer coming to their area in mobile platforms for providing them with their grocery needs. This phenomenon is already happening in many places in the country in a limited way with mobile vendors selling apparels, fruits, vegetables, hot foods, plastic goods etc from regular locations in residential areas with easy access to the house wives. Probably larger players may emerge in future using bigger trucks with more diverse merchandise once the organized retailing takes a stranglehold in the country.

No comments: