Places, People and Visual Stories

Vanishing tribe – mom and pop shops? Will they really?

The FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in retail is very hotly debated topic in India now a days. Many arguments against and quite a few in favour are floating around. The political parties with the single mission of saving their own perceived ‘base’ are raising hue and cry.

The question is really, will the move impact the street corner traders and, mom and pop shops, adversely?

Will this grocery store vanish from the bylanes of LEH?


or will this from the alleys of Varanasi

Incredible India! - Varanasi : Alleys and stories within

Will this entrepreneurial 70-year old young man in GOA surrender his bags business over night

Incredible India - Goa - world descends..

WIll this cloth merchant in Grant Road in Mumbai wind up his shop in a week?

Incredible India! Mumbai meri Jaan..

In a modern city, DUbai, known only as MECCA for retail, when the mom and pop shops thrive, do you think the most entrepreneurial nation like India will fail?

Dream Dubai ! Really?

With the best of the world’s automobile industry operating in India, with a wide variety of offerings, the innovative grassroot designers in this country still found enough takers for their innovative alternatives….

whether in Delhi

I am set for the day - Chawri Bazar to Jama Masjid

or Gujarat

The Indian Innovation mindset....

Do you think this centuries old practise of buying and selling on the Dal lake of Srinagar vanish with the advent of retail chains?

Kashmir - Jannat Zamin par

or this vegetable market in Pondicherry

Incredible India - Pondering Pondicherry

or this smiling vendor of Leh, who receives his supply of vegetables after a couple months of wait due to snow fall!


or this quizzical tomato retailer in the heart of Mumbai!

Incredible India! Mumbai meri Jaan..

or do you think this meat seller in Delhi would vanish or

Turkman Gate - Razia sultan tomb walk

or this one from Mumbai, if a major abettoir lands?

Incredible India! Mumbai meri Jaan..

can any one underestimate this smug looking, yet nimble footed, wholesale dealer of onions and garlic?

Incredible India! Mumbai meri Jaan..

Or this champion coconut wholeseller in Madurai?

Incredible India - Marvelous Madurai

Many a homegrown retail giant have come and gone away, not able to break any of the barriers….do not understimate these century old, well-entrenched business families!

Do you ever think that any multinational flourist can ever match this swift one?

Kashmir - Jannat Zamin par

Or this customer-friendly one in Chennai?

Incredible India - Pondering Pondicherry

Or this pious-looking one of Kochi?

Life around Hyd, Kochi, Blore with friends and family

When this street-smart quencher of thirst has outwitted all multinational distribution kiosks in Dubai

Dream Dubai ! Really?

Do you think this cycling pop will give in at any time in Varanasi?

Incredible India! - Varanasi : Alleys and stories within

Or this Sahuji, who has built a 30 lakh annual business selling poha in Raipur?

Unsung hero Sahooji, Raipur

Or ponnuchammy in Madurai who makes about 50 Lakhs per annum selling soup.

Incredible India - Marvelous Madurai

Many a large restaurant chains have come and established themselves, but these ones are still doing brisk business every day even before those big chains open their doors early in the mornings.

The largest of the shoe retail outlets with their neon lights glowing as bright as ever, could never pose a threat to this small shoe kiosk on the water front in Dubai….third generation running this shop…

Dream Dubai ! Really?

Will their coming into India in more numbers do any harm to this beautiful ‘mochi’ of Shekhawati?

Royale Rajasthan - Jaipur, Shekhawati

Having lived in and after observing a few cities across the world, I have not noticed any adverse impact. In a modern financial capital like Dubai which is a city country, huge retail operators like carrefour, with multiple outlets exist within a few kilometers apart, yet the mom and pop stores, of every kind, thrive in the heart of the city. We used to order our daily groceries over the phone and get delivered in a few minutes. In fact, realized that the efficiency of the mom and pop stores goes up dramatically wherever there are huge retail chains.

The stories are same in Bangkok, Kaulalumpur and Djakarta that have opened up in the last decade. The efficiencies have increased dramatically.

Yes, a word of caution. Indian regulatory system is always lackadasaical in implementation. Hence, we as a nation, should have a good regulatory framework on sourcing and procurement, distribution etc and implement it in a stringent manner.

IKEA, the swedish furniture giant, sources about 10-12 percent of its products from India, that the world enjoys but Indians do not get access to these products as IKEA does not exist in India. Why not we produce the best, sell the best to the world, as well as use it ourselves too.

If we as a nation have an agenda of developing skill sets and also facilitating the young entrepreneurs to produce the best, then we do not have anything to worry about. Same goes true of the sales side to. Help the mom-and-pop stores to enhance their efficiencies with the arrival of these retail giants.

Every species either gets efficient or finds a better positioned living whenever the environment becomes more competitive. I am sure the same would happen even in the Indian local markets or mom-and-pop shops whenever FDI goes full throttle. Nothing can change overnight anyways!

If you have it in you, you will make a killing….

I selected these photos from my travels collection of a few thousand such photos to put to-gether this article I would love to hear from each one of you, your views. Kindly leave your precious comments.

Love and regards..


Like my Facebook Photo and Visual arts Page

– Indus Art Gallery, Campus – Indus World School of Business, Greater Noida

Display / Collections

– At my Alma mater : Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

– Various schools of Indus World School chain

– Private collections

Recent Publications featuring my work and in Media [know more]

– The India Idea, Wisdom Tree publications for Ministry of External Affairs, Public diplomacy division, Aug 2011

– Penguin India, Top 5 “India through my Lens” 2011

– Femina Magazine, Anniversary issue, October 14, 2011

– Photographs featured with poetry in the book Hindustani Poems ‘Shayad, Yaheen kaheen se ho’ by Satya, April 27, 2012

– Photos being published in a coffee table book format on Rajasthan and India, coming up Jan 2013


10 responses

  1. By FDI retail stores definitely there will be effect on the small shops that are doing business now because the FDI Retails will attract the bulk of the customers to shop at one place all their requirements in bulk. The present shop owners have to diversify their trades or shift their shops to the nook and corners of the towns or cities not so near to the FDI stores.

    November 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    • Traditionally, there have been families going to big mandis to buy for the year (rice, pulses) or for the month any ways. Still, there are many things that one keeps buying every day. That would anyway continue which will obviously be mom and pop stores.

      Having said that, in India, there are any ways big retail stores already operating (like Big Bazaar). More competition, more choices for the customer as well as the mom-and-pop stores that procure from there (Metro, Walmart even now).

      If we look at places like Dubai where huge retail formats are existing, all pretty closeby, there are hundreds of mom-and-pop stores that are in the same neighbourhood that deliver far more customer delight (deliver on call) that most keep using.

      In countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia where FDI has opened in the last decade, the efficiencies have increased dramatically without impacting the mom-and-pop shops much. Anyways the will become more dynamic and customer friendly.

      November 14, 2012 at 2:53 am

  2. Pingback: SREENI Views : Vanishing tribe – mom and pop shops? Will they really? « The journey within – Awakening the Self

  3. Rishab Pruthi

    Certainly the mom and pop shops will/can co-exist with the branded chains, but their business would be severely affected. Its not that all the small shops would die, but some would and many will feel the heat of the competition. The total demand will then be distributed among the existing and the new players.

    November 15, 2012 at 11:27 am

    • If not today, it will happen tomorrow. I have given enough examples in countries where FDI has happened and mom & pop shops are equally flourishing.

      November 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm

  4. Syed Zubair Ahmad

    Question arises How can People trust this decision {Fdi in Retail} country like India where Government make policies without adequate information,,Work for either big corporate houses 0r Religious Group ?

    November 23, 2012 at 2:25 pm

  5. Awesome Blog and awesome photography. Sir, even I have a similar thought as the one you posted on your blog, but the same old corruption in India and the chain of middlemen make it difficult to implement such decisions. As a citizen, what can we do to improve it?

    December 4, 2012 at 10:30 am

    • Thanks Kanika. Implement ideas with robust systems, people will hop on to it and make it a success. Metro in Delhi is an example, Aadhaar is a powerful ideal. It can change the country. Next story is going to be on that.

      December 9, 2012 at 8:01 am

  6. A fantastic group of images of people who I hope will continue their businesses as long as they are able and willing. It’s hard to imagine a world without them, as you have so carefully shown here. I don’t know Indian politics at all, but I see a thoughtful spirit with a great eye! thank you –

    January 8, 2013 at 9:29 pm

    • Thanks bluebrightly for visiting and leaving your kind thoughts. I am sure that these warriors will be at the forefront, inspite of the big markets coming in.. their models may have to be tinkered with. Those who are thinkers and doers will take a great advantage of the developments..

      I loved visiting your blog and glad to see your affinity towards nature. It is a constant presence in every posting of yours. Loved it. will continue to interact and lear.

      January 13, 2013 at 3:32 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s