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SHOP till you ALL DROP



Family Mart: from groceries to driving, a one-stop-shop -- Photos: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

HEARD THIS one? A family that shops together stays together! Well, you can either love shopping or you can hate it, but you have to agree that it has to be done. Business bigwigs have finally realised that there is another side to Namma Bengaluru away from Commercial Road and M.G. Road, Indiranagar and Koramangala. It is called J.P. Nagar, and it is in the news now because this is where Valdel Retail launched `a value shopping destination supercentre' FamilyMart. It consists of a department store called Centra, a supermarket called Dailys, a food court, and entertainment for kids. Other facilities such as bookstore, music, bakery, photo shop, and beauty salon are also there.

"FamilyMart offers one-stop shopping, food, and entertainment for the entire family," said Mr. M.J. Shantharam, Managing Director of Valdel Corporation, and before you jump to the conclusion that this project is a foreign venture, please be informed that Valdel evolved from the phrase `value delivery'! But Valdel, promoted by the M.S. Ramaiah Group, does have a partnership with Suiwah Corporation of Malaysia, a public listed company with turnover in excess of $370 million. Its main business comprises of supermarkets and department stores in Penang.


FamilyMart is spread across four lakh sq. ft.— one lakh for the mart, and three lakh for parking and free air! "Parking space for about 350 cars and 400 two-wheelers are some of the details we have been very specific about," said Mr. Shantaram. The two-storey building built on the lines of America's Wal-Mart sits bang on the property, on the busy Kanakapura Road. Let's take the case of Mr. Shivkumar and family. He leaves his mother at Music World, father in a bookshop, and rushes off to get his film developed at the photo shop, before picking up the groceries. Ms. Shivakumar goes off to Lifestyle Clinique after giving the `essentials list' to hubby, while junior surveys the games scene at `Funzone', maintained by Megabowl. Miss Shivakumar tries out dresses to her heart's content — both from the ample stocks of known brands and `Mahi', FamilyMart's in-house brand. The men's in-house brand is called `Austin Parker'. At a predetermined time, the family meets at the Sweet Chariot food court and replenishes the tired body with a choice of continental, North Indian, South Indian, Chinese, and cool off with pastries and ice-creams. "This is not a bargain bazaar," clarified Ms. Aparna Medhi, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications. "But in FamilyMart, our volumes of stocks will make it possible for shoppers to get a good discount on many items. Wide aisles, bigger shopping carts, and quality products are just some of the things you can expect here," said the manager. "Unlike shopping malls where the property owner just rents out the shops to anyone who can afford the rent, here all the merchandise is selected by Valdel. We control the quality of every department on the premises, and even the few that have been outsourced are reputed companies," she added.

Unlike many shopping malls where glitter and shimmer at the entrance put off the middle-class shopper, FamilyMart wisely stocks affordable clothes for the entire family at the entrance of Centra, the department store. Then come the footwear, jewellery, cosmetics, toys, office stationery, and home furnishings. In fact, the furniture section upstairs has seen the maximum sales in the mart. Sofas in all ranges, study tables, and bunker beds, dining tables and chairs, in Malaysian wood are a rage. Especially attractive is a two-seater table that opens out smoothly into a four-seater, priced at Rs.12,000. Glass-topped steel tables, shoe racks, and storage ideas are available too. Strategically placed payment counters do away with long queues. It's a big, big air-conditioned world in there for people used to haggling over prices at small, sweaty stores. And it is here that a bit of assistance may be a thoughtful gesture. This reporter found a highly embarrassed shopper being traumatised by a loudly beeping detector — the hapless woman just did not know which counter to make her payment at and innocently came to the security man at the door (and incidentally near the detector) to enquire!

The company that claims to be driven by social responsibility has already made arrangements to manage the sudden rush of traffic in the area. FamilyMart is at 22, 6th Phase, J.P. Nagar, Kanakapura Road. You can call them on 56990190.

MALA KUMAR

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