Why I will continue shopping in Kiranas?

FDI in retail it seems!

Good to hear about this new development.

Shamefully, I am not very well verse with the pros and cons of this new development (though I assume it’s a good decision).

But the one major point that caught my attention was about the probability of small time traders and kiranas losing their business.

This topic is of special interest to me because my day to day grocery purchases depend upon them.

As a middle class person, I understand the importance of the local kirana shops.

The local grocery shops are more flexible w.r.t delivery, pricing and even payment.

I will discuss all this point by point and compare each of them with the retail outlets like food bazaar and More that have increasingly become popular now.

  • Location:

This is one of the major reasons why I prefer kiranas more than the huge retail outlets. Outlets such as Aditya Birla’s More and Future Group’s big bazaar are almost there in every location. But nothing can beat the accessibility of local kirana shops. I will give you an example. Hypercity and Spencers are the closest retail outlets near my place. But it takes almost 15 minutes for me to go there and I am not even including the travel time and traffic here. Now if I need something urgent like say a guest has come and I want to buy soft drinks for them, can’t go to the retail outlet to purchase it. I just need to go down and buy the soft drinks or best call them up and ask them to deliver it at home.
Now imagine how the situation will be without any local kirana shop. It is almost unimaginable. I cannot tell my guest to sit for 45 minutes, while I go, buy, stand in the queue to pay the bill and come back, right? That’s why I like my local kirana shop. They give me everything within few minutes.

  • Home Delivery:

For people who own a car or stay nearby, it is easier to buy grocery and carry it themselves. But for people like me who neither own a vehicle nor stays nearby, retail outlets can be a huge hassle because most of these outlets do not have a home delivery option. And if they have, you need to buy in bulk. This problem is well taken care of by local shops. Even if you stay in the same building or have ordered just 100 Rs of grocery, the kiranawala will send his delivery boy to your home. You need not have to huff and puff with hundreds of packets in your hand.

  • Fixed Rate:

In India, the first lesson that every mother teaches her kid who goes shopping for the first time is bargaining.
 I remember my mom telling me to ask for 6 bananas for 10 Rs when I first went alone a shop.
Yes you can bargain with your local shop vendor, but not in these outlets. In fact, don’t even try bargaining there because you will be given strange looksJ.
Everything in the outlets has a fixed price. Yes, some things are priced less than the MRP but for products like dal and fruits, you should always buy from the grocery because even though there is a fixed price, they adjust it somehow to make it a round figure. One more major thing, the fruits and vegetables in these markets are not as fresh as those available in the market. They look very shrivelled. Best to buy perishable things like vegetables, fruits, milk etc from the local market than in these outlets. Even packed snacks like haldiram bhujia are not as crunchy as they should be.
From round figure, I remember one important point. In local shops you can bindaas tell the shopkeeper to adjust and make a round figure bill. For example, if you have purchased things worth Rs 173, you can tell the shopkeeper to give at Rs 170. They will do some jhol jaal and do it for you. In retail outlets, you can’t do that. They will make a round figure, but that will be at the higher side.

  • Difference between Credit card and credit system:

This point was raised by my professor some 6 years ago and I think it is quite valid.
My professor one day asked us, there are so many food retail outlets coming up in India, do you think it will be as popular as your kirana dukaan.
We all unanimously said yes. He said ‘NO’.  In his view, no matter how popular these outlets become, kirana dukaans will always exist.
The simple reason being that we can buy things on credit...
And this I believe is quite valid.
 It happens to me a lot of time...
I go to buy something, find zero money in my wallet, tell the shopkeeper to write it down and then pay it after a month when my salary is credited. Now credit cards are accepted in malls but then there is nothing like having an account with your grocery shop. Also, you cannot buy a 10 Rs item on credit from retail outlets, can you?

  • Buy as much as you want and not as much as they want:

Want only 10 gms of elaichi, 50 gms of cashew nuts, Rs 5 of coriander leaves or just 200 gms of tuvar dal?
Go to the local kirana shop because they will give you the quantity you desire.
If you go to the retail outlets, chances are that you won’t get the desired quantity. Mostly you will have to buy in bulk. You will compulsorily have to purchase 50 gms of elaichi even if you need just 10 gms because they are already packed. In kiranas they are sold loose so you can buy as much as you want.
I will give you an example. We are rice eaters. We eat rotis only at night. So ideally we don’t require more than 1 kg of atta for a month. If we go to buy in malls, we mostly don’t get the 1 kilo atta. We normally get the 5 kilo atta packet. Not that kirana shops have 1 kilo atta ready but if you tell them, they will get it for you in a week somehow.
But the main reason why I prefer local kirana shops is because they give you personalized treatment. Something that you cannot expect in malls.
Your local shopkeeper will know what you like, what you dislike, what are your preferences etc. He will inform you every time there is something new in the market. For example, my kirana wala uncle informs my mom about the new biscuits that have come in the market almost every week, just because we are biscuit loversJ.
Knowingly or unknowingly they become your extended family.
Of course I love shopping in these large retail outlets. You have the freedom to browse through the multiple brands on the rack, study them, compare them and purchase them. But when it comes to personalized treatment no one can beat the warmth of the local kirana shops. They simply look after you. And what more do we Indian who has an emotional connect with everybody need?
Though I think FDI in retail is a good decision, considering that it will be more organized and create more job opportunities for youth, I sincerely hope that the kiranas coexist in the society.
I cannot imagine a day without purchasing anything from Devshri Ratilal shop or the new chayya shop near my placeJ.
Hope kirana shops don’t become extinct.


Tall Guy said...

Your post kind of reminded of me of books in college where such things were studied and which will soon become a reality in India.

Nevertheless these are challenging times ahead it all depends on how one looks at it.

Certainly not for the weak ones who stoop in the event of a storm.....

Makk said...

practically, all the reasons you have mentioned will help them survive this new competition more over it will enforce new level of competency because they will have to compete with State-of-art supply chain management of, say, Wallmart.

Initially prices will plummet and that will help to beat inflation.

Just for your info (in case you dont know), more 10 rupees hike will there in case of Diesel, probably after Parliamentary election ( of-course depending on how strong Govt. comes in House)

BK Chowla, said...

I would any day prefer going to the local round the corner Lalaji

Bikramjit said...

Hmmm well all the best :) and have fun


Jack said...


I agree with points which you told. The personalized service and home delivery of even small quantity is best by local KIRAANAA stores. Main argument in favour of FDI is to give proper due to the farmers. If that be so, why not make co-operative societies like AMUL or Mother Dairy for grocery items also?

Take care

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continue your shopping.......

Oldfox004 said...

right points! I like what Uncle JAck has said..co-operative societies for groceries too?! best solution!

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Unknown!!! said...

u r very right about the small quantities purchase and the ease of visiting.. with malls..the parking..the travel all the way..etc..are irritating...and i cant agree more with Makk above..

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