Nearly 66 years ago, a Rajasthani man from Kolkata came to Vizag to make a living. Today his store is a household name. Yo! Vizag talks to Sri Trilokchand Hirawat to know the story of one of Vizag’s oldest clothing stores.
Way before the swanky malls and designer stores, this was the store that answered the young Vizag teenager’s quest for cool western wear and a great range of accessories. But more than the cool western outfits, ethnic wear, matching accessories, trendy bags and even house décor; Hirawats was the place for uniforms. Pioneers in marketing readymade uniforms for almost all schools, colleges and even offices, the iconic store, led by the dynamic and business savvy Trilokchand Hirawat is still as relevant today as it was years ago.
As a mining supervisor based in Vizianagaram, Trilokchand Hirawat often visited Vizag port to oversee shipping of ore to Japan in the 1950s. His keen business acumen coupled with his love for the city inspired him to open a garment store and in 1954, his first store, Hirawats, came into being in the Old Town with clothes sourced in from Kolkata. With a small investment of Rs.3000 and two people to assist him, he set out to make his mark in the city. Innovation and stocking what market really needed was his trademark, to the extent that Hirawats was the first shop to stock swimwear in Vizag. Keeping with the trends and stocking fashion wear, he started sourcing in clothes from Mumbai too. In fact, being the sole distributor for Mafatlal in Vizag for a while, the store topped the sales of Mafatlal India in 1968.
Recollecting the markets in the 60s, Trilokchand reminisces of a time when shops would close by seven because of improper lighting. Goods for the store would come only once in a month via the railways as there was no road transport yet. The city was deserted beyond Poorna Market and Kurupam Market. “When I was looking for plots to buy for a shop, I was shown one in Asilmetta Junction. It is a busy area now but back then it was in the middle of nowhere. I asked them how they expect me to set up an outlet there,” he laughs.
Today Hirawats is an empire that provides employment to more than 300 people. The dedicated patriarch still is hands on in the store, managing it with the help of his three sons and grandsons. He can be seen at one of the stores at any given time. Despite establishment of several malls and showrooms in the city, Hirawats manages to hold its own, by still bringing customers the range of products they need. When asked about the secret to his success, he says, “I don’t encourage bargains or offer discounts because I sell quality goods at a very fair price. People still visit my shop because they have faith in me, and that’s how I still survive.”