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Small retailers are superbly efficient: Another party planning tale- March 29, 2012

So today was the errand day. First stop was Landmark. A huge pan-India chain selling books, music, stationery, toys, etc. We were trying to buy return gifts for Aadyaa’s friends and Udai’s, who would be coming for the party tomorrow. It took us about half an hour to select what we wanted, basically large quantities of finite items. It took us nearly the same amount of time to bill them!

One young man, sprightly enough but clearly on his first job ever, was patiently passing every single pen, pencil, crayon and comic (oops, did I let out the secret?) through the barcode scanner. He even fed in barcodes where the scanner didn’t oblige. About ten minutes down, I asked him if there was a better way to do this and he told me the system only takes one item at a time. There apparently was no way to enter a code and then enter the number of items of that type! All the items that he did scan were meanwhile piling up on the other side. About ten employees of the store hung about, not one of them attempting to fill these into a bag. Finally, we (scanner boy and me) had to ask one to help! And then, this dude proceeded to put all the books in one bag and the stationery in the other! Explaining the merits of weight distribution was sort of pointless…..So, after having a word with the manager of the store, who looked pained but not inclined to do anything much about the situation, we left carrying one bag that was nearly bursting open and another that was fairly light!

We didn’t find wrapping paper at this huge mega store (only the super expensive kind!) and so we visited the stationery shop at the urban village nearby (Chakkarpur, Gurgaon). We saw in operation a well-stocked store, efficiently manned, with an owner-manager who knew his stock (and most of his customers) intimately.  I could bet all the stuff we bought at Landmark would have been billed here in 3 minutes flat! Plus, we would have got a better deal, more variety, friendlier service….

Stupid us. Falling for big names. Lesson learnt! Look local first. And for other stuff, plan better and order online!

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