The second floor of Abhiruchi Fun and Food Mall on Sinhagad Road now resembles Tulsibaug, while the food court serves street snacks
Finally, it seems there’s one mall too many in the city. With no takers for its second-floor shopping area, the Abhiruchi Fun and Food Mall on Sinhagad Road in Vadgaon Budruk — all of 15 months old — has given the level over to streetside hawkers along the lines of the Tulsibaug shopping district in the heart of the old city.
It doesn’t end there — the food court on the third floor has been given over to a roadside fast food vendor called Godwa Chinese, who now runs a snack centre offering the usual list of vadapav to bhajjis and south Indian fast food. In fact, it is now called the Godwa Food Court.
The first floor, though, is taken by Easyday, a joint venture supermarket chain by Bharti-Retail and Wal-Mart. Spread across 2,75,000 sq ft, construction of the four-storeyed mall was completed in November 2011. Since then, however, there have been few takers for the shop-space says mall manager, Pradeep Wakale.
Around 40 hawkers line both sides of the second floor, selling everything from garments, cheap sunglasses, generic footwear, handbags and wallets to handicrafts and pirated books. The only ‘brands’ on this floor are jewellers P N Gadgil and Pantaloons, which has a factory sale outlet, and City Pride’s screens.
“We call it the mini-Tulsibaug market. Most of the shops we built on this floor have not been rented yet, so we decided to give the walking space over to small retailers. Since they have come in, weekends see a lot of people coming in.
We have recorded over 15,000 footfalls on weekends as compared to around 7,000 on weekdays. Most of these small shop owners are from Tulsibaug market, and each shop admeasuring 8’x8’ sq ft pays Rs 5,000 as monthly rent,” Wakale added.
Mall director and owner Sunil Bhide said, “Actually we wanted to provide a one-stop shop to our customers. This is the main idea behind this concept. We already have Easyday and City Pride multiplex on this floor.
The Sinhagad Road area is growing in residential schemes and people want a market nearby. Unlike Bajirao Road, there is no traffic problem or congestion and facilities are good. Anyone can come here and enjoy shopping.”
Rajendra Mahapure, who was running a women’s wear shop in Tulsibaug and has shifted here since, said, “Sales are good only on weekends. But our monthly income has gone up. I used to earn Rs 10-15,000 in Tulsibaug, which has increased to Rs 20,000 at the mall. We’re still looking for a permanent shop for our business to grow.
Also, we have to compete with brands in this mall, which makes it hard to sustain profits for long.” Men’s accessories shop owner Datta Bhalerao added, “Earlier, we used to operate out of Laxmi Road, where customers had traffic problems, and we used to face harassment from the police and PMC antiencroachment squads. There were also frequent fights with other hawkers over space.
Here, it’s really safe — we pay Rs 5,000 as rent and there is no police trouble. My business is also doing good, and has gone up to Rs 15,000 per month from the Rs 8,000 that I was earning earlier.” Damodar Kumavat, a Rajasthani handicrafts stall owner, begs to differ. “There is hardly any business at this mall.
It’s better to set up the stall on the road. Though there is a substantial crowd here, most people come here to spend time and not to shop.” Some brands, though, are actually welcoming the stalls.
Amit Modak, finance head with P N Gadgil Jewellers, claims that because of the mini-Tulsibaug market, more customers are visiting his store. “It is our first shop in a mall. We felt this decision was a risky one, as we didn’t know if people will come to shop for gold and silver in a mall.
Now, when people come here to watch a movie or to the vendors, they also visit our shop and ultimately give us business. There is a security set up here, ample parking space and good washrooms which draw people to the mall.”
Sandeep Pawar, manager, Pantaloon Factory Outlet, added, “We are getting a good response in this mall, but we are also having to compete with the stalls. People want to browse the stalls, but not make purchases.”
Meenal Patil, a regular, said, “It’s good to have such a concept in the mall, but I think the rates here are higher than those at Tulsibaug. And what’s more, we can’t bargain here.”
Anup Pol Patil, who runs the Godwa food court, said, “In January 2013, we started this food court and have been doing well. We offer everything from vada-pav to Chinese. While operating on the roadside, there is always the problem of storage of raw material. But here, there is an entire kitchen and we have maintained hygiene.”
► We call it the mini Tulsibaug market. Most shops we built on this floor have not been rented yet, so we decided to give the walking space to small retailers
- Pradeep Wakale, Manager, Abhiruchi Mall
► It’s good to have such a concept in the mall, but I think the rates here are higher
- Meenal Patil, a regular