As old as independent India, the Jai Hind textiles store in Old Town in Visakhapatnam carries the torch of nationalism with pride. The store is a perfect example of the be-Indian, buy-Indian slogan. Yo! Vizag traces its history.
Established in the year India declared her independence in 1947, the Jai Hind Textiles has been serving the fabric needs of Vizagites ever since. It was the year when nationalistic feelings were running high, and it was that sentiment which influenced Appanna Setty, the present owner’s grandfather to name the store thus. ‘My grandfather was very patriotic, and was one amongst the many Indians of that era who wished for freedom. He was born and brought up in Visakhapatnam. He was an employee, when he considered starting his own business. Back then there were very few shops selling ready-made clothes and textiles in Visakhapatnam. Also, my grandfather had sources from whom he could procure textiles from different parts of the country. He was just in his mid-30s when he took the plunge and started the store which soon became a success. Since then our store has been selling merchandises that is purely Indian made. We source goods from all over the country and sell it here. For various reasons, the original store that my grandfather set up had to be relocated. We shifted twice, but have remained in the same locality,’ explains K Siva Kanth, the current owner, who inherited the store from his father. Three generations down the line, the store has a history of loyal customers, who frequent the store not for nostalgia alone, but for the trust that has been built and nurtured over decades. In fact, the most touching instance of loyalty was of an old customer. The elderly frail gentleman was sick, and just had a few days left. ‘His explicit request to his family members was that he be covered with a cloth purchased from the Jai Hind store, because he was very fond of our products. That was a very touching request, and yet it was a matter of pride for me and our store’, shares Siva.
Dealing with all kinds of textiles and ready-mades for all age groups, the store also has an extensive range of furnishing like bedsheets, curtains and linen. Explaining why his customers prefer coming to this store in spite of the advent of malls and so much competition, Siva says, ‘We sell everything below the market price. Furthermore, we allow our old customers to pay in instalments and have a varied range to choose from.’ Most of his customers have been visiting them for generations; ‘Currently we have customers who have been associated with us for more than 40 years, though off late, there has been an increase in new customers as well’, says Siva. He adds that in spite of them never conducting any marketing or promotional drives, customers have always come back to the store. While sales have always been good throughout the year, it is just before any festive season that the store is crowded to the point that ‘we have no breathing space at all!’
With eight employees working in the store, Siva handles the administration and finances. When asked about future plans and renovations, Siva admits that there have been plans to revamp the store and also open a branch to ease the crowds on festive shopping days. Moving with the changing times, the now air-conditioned store has kept up with the needs and fluctuating wants of the customers while still retaining its original charm of the store opened in 1947.