Walmart, the world’s largest retailer is finally gaining entrance into India after long bureaucratic battles with the government. They are creating a joint venture with Bharati Enterprises, a leading Telecom company. Here is a very detailed article about Walmart’s latest venture from NY Times. Although it is not known what strategy walmart will follow to open its hundreds of stores, it does not deny that it is targeting the huge Middle class population in India. Although the definition of Middle class is different in Bangalore when compared to Trichy, it tells us that it is aligning with its global strategy of providing Good Quality products at low cost.
Given all that, I was thinking whether WalMart will come to a city like Trichy, which has a rich culture and very cost conscious population who still value old ways of shopping by going to a neighboring stores and chatting with the Kadai Karar, while buying stuff. In Trichy there usually are small shops in all neighbourhoods and colonies which generally go by kadaikarar’s name ( Thambi, Andha muthu kadaikku poi, oru kilo seeni vaangittu vaa) or by the shop’s location ( Mukku Kadai, Sandhu Kadai, rukkumani kadai (close to the theatre)). When that thambi goes to the kadai, the kadaikarrar invariably asks ” Appa soikiyama Thambi” , Nalla Padikkiriya etc. while packing the stuff thambi wants. Also, these shops excells themselves in door delivery. If we give a list of essentials ( maasa Jaaman) that we need, they will deliver them to the house at a later time whenever we want with no delivery charges. Usually the kadaikarra Thambi will come and deliver to the house. They also know when veetukaara amma will be in the house so they will do it when someone can corroborate the list and the Jaamaan. Also, if there is any festival in the horizon, then the kadaikarar will stock uo on specific and specially items for that festival. So we can always be rest assured that we will get what we need from the kadaikarrar.
Trichy has its share of SuperMarkets. Be it Chintamani in Mainguardgate or pic n pac in various places and Femina Super Market in Femina Hotels near Central Bus Stand, there are places for people who wish spend a little more for browsing & picking products. Chintamani is present for a long time and its building makes you wonder whether it was opened by Karikaala Cholan himself. ( They have the best Karumbu Juice shop in Trichy). But pic n pac and Femina Supermarket are relatively newer and have more employees than Shoppers. The price is also more when compared to the small shops. But they let u look around and pick the products you want. Using Credit cards are still a chore in them, but that is a story for a different day. In-spite of all this “modern” way of shopping, they are preferred by less people and mostly by working singles.
So looking all this, walmart’s entry into India will not have much effect on our local kadaikarar’s sales. But it will be beneficial for people who produce goods. They will get a big and potentially global outlet for their products and also if the prices are cheaper in walmart than in the outside market, then the local kadaikarrars are smart enough to go and buy their supplies there and sell in their outlets. ( with added convenience) . So it will be interesting to see how the landscape changes for Mukku Kadaikarar when Walmart walks in and says Howdy to Tiruchians.