Last man standing ….

I was driving back home a little late last week. It was 10:45 in the night … and all stores on 24th Main, where we live, were closed.

Well, not all !!

Balaji Medical stores our local store here was open. Actually they are the first to open and last to close in our area. I started wondering why the Medi Plus nearby is closed?

Ask any on in HSR Sector 2 and they will say Balaji always has all the medicines you need. If they don’t they will get it for u by end of day. They deliver home, even if it is one syrup ! And, Balaji is always open.

Come to think of it there is a story to tell in this. It is the small entepreneurial stores like Balaji Medical Stores that thrive, while the large chains struggle. In our own area this is true with MK Ahmed, which no one could beat … none of the large chains. Walk into most of the large chains in our area. Their stocks are ready to expire. The store managers are invisible and always busy updating their computers or complaining the computers don’t work. The staff never makes eye contact and is always busily moving around the store hiding in the aisles. Of course, they never recognise you how many ever times u visit.

There is something ironical here. The large chains were supposed to wipe out the “kirana stores” and “one location mom&pop” stores. Their superior inventory management, vast stocks, trained staff and computerized systems were supposed to leave the small ones in the dust. In our own area it’s the proprietary stores that own most of the business still.

I guess running a retail business is one store at a time and needs people who want to sell. It needs an inherent understanding of what people buy, rather than just report reading skills … no system can give u an instinct for what is popular. Needs skin in the game and an entreprenurial spirit to stay in the store engaged and sell. That’s where most of the retail chains struggle. To build the spirit. To build the model where each store manager runs it like it’s his own Balaji Medical Stores. This is even harder when they kept opening new stores thru the boom time … without having a strong core that can be replicated or scaled.

No wonder Balaji Medical Stores is thriving … while two large chains have wound up operations.

Let the last (wo)man standing standing thrive !!

Published by SridharTuraga

A dad. A partner. A son. A problem solver. A learner. A teacher.

2 thoughts on “Last man standing ….

  1. Spot on!
    I’ve help for a looong time that the small guys in India will kick a** – and there’s signs of that happening all over, already.

    a. Flexibility! The guy can *bargain* with you. We love to *win* the 5% off, not just plain get it 🙂
    b. Efficiency. Scale driven efficiencies are easily negated and more by efficiencies of inventory, labour, “paper trail management” etc that the smaller guys excel at!
    c. Format : The small guys have adopted the newer retail formats, and at the same time maintained their advantages of delivery, cash on delivery, and personalized service.

    – Sameer

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