Having read and heard all the hype around Walmart’s cash and carry route into the Indian market with Bharti, two colleagues and I decided to check out their spanking new Best Price outlet at village Paragpur on NH1 between Jalandhar and Phagwara in Punjab.
It is a large swanky building with huge branding that prominently displays the word “Wholesale” – which has not deterred hordes of families trooping in for some “new kind of mall” experience (Viva Collage mall is next door). A “wholesale cash n carry” concept is alien out here (oye!! ay ki hai??)
Of course, they, and we, are stopped at the entrance, saying we need a Membership Card to get in. Turns out, Membership is only available if you are a retailer, which means you have to show certain documents (Sales Tax, Registration, etc) before you can enter the mother ship, and take off with goodies at wholesale prices, to further sell them to customers at retail prices, keeping your margin, and paying up the requisite taxes to the government.
Hmm. The only claim to being a retailer I can make, is the fact that my grandfather and his father before that, owned one of the largest retail outfits in north India way back in the early 1900s. So we did the next best thing we could do as good Indians – we made some calls and tada – we were inside in ten minutes!
Now the place is massive by Indian standards, but puny by international standards of even malls and places like Ikea. But the products and prices on offer were very impressive. From a considerable thousands of rupees on air-conditioners and shoes (yep, thousands on shoes!) to a few hundreds on everything, including good brands of shirts. I was of course, disappointed by the tiny margins on my favorite Gillette Mach 3 razor blades.
But hey, who am I kidding – our contacts may have got us inside, but they couldn’t get us to be able to shop 🙁
But that was not the case with the other Pappaji, Mummiji, and chota Pintu and Montu who were inside – with Membership Cards. They were all around the place, as were other aunties with bachchas, buying a jhadu, one pair of shoes, some tee shirts, and of course, sabzis.
Funny, out of the hundred odd people in the place, no one seemed to be really buying “whole sale”. They seemed to be just treating themselves to “great products at great bargain prices” without the bargaining!
Unless they were just buying “samples” and would come back later and pick up 5000 jhadus and 2 quintals of tamatar.
Trick or treat, only time will tell.
But at the time of exiting the place I noticed our parking ticket serial number was 648, and the parking attendant clarified it started at 001 with the opening the day before.
On a busy highway in the heart of vibrant Punjab, is that a good figure for visitors on day 1 & 2? Go figure.
PS: Noshtradamus has nothing to do with Bharti Walmart or Best Price. We are neither their representatives, consultants, pr, advertising, digital or any kind of communication agency. Nor are we their help desk. So we cannot answer any questions related to them, their operations, or anything else to do with them. To know more about them, I suggest you look here.