Mom & pop stores decide to go snazzy


The government's decision to open up FDI in retail has prompted several 'mom & pop' stores to pull up their socks. A major experiment is underway in some parts of the country to revamp the way in which small stores function.

Dowdy kirana stores are giving way to snazzy super bazaars in Nagpur where a pilot is in progress under the aegis of the Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT). The goal now is to replicate this model in other cities. A CAIT meet in Jaipur is slated to be held on December 16 and 17 to decide the future course of action.

The CAIT, a trade group that represents 50 million local businesses, says global giants such as Wal-Mart are not welcome in India because their "deep pockets and enormous resources" will wipe out local retailers.

"We have to oppose FDI and we will continue doing so. But let us be realistic. We will not be able to stop it but only stall it," said BC Bhartia, president of CAIT, whose family owns a large department store in Nagpur.

If FDI in retail is delayed by another two years, the small shops can prepare themselves to give Wal-Mart and Carrefour a good fight, he feels. CAIT is also planning to tap several agriculture produce market committees in Maharashtra to evolve the concept of new formats for smaller stores.

Independent retailer, known locally as kiranas, dominate India's retail market — holding a 93% market share over corporate retailers at 7%, according to consultancy firm Technopak Bhartia has been reading up on Wal-Mart and CAIT's research wing has been working on getting every detail on operations of large retail chains to provide tips to small retailers. Using this material, CAIT has created a syllabus for the schools that it has been conducting in Delhi and Nagpur.

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