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I was reading a Retail related post about ‘pop up stores’ on a the National Entrepreneurship Network website. (While on NEN – they are co-founded by IIT B; IIM A; SP Jain Institute, Bombay; IBAB, Bangalore and BITS Pilani to help launch new entrepreneurs, and hence thousands of valuable jobs for India. Very noble indeed.)

Their post was about an innovative retail format in the Phillipines called the ‘Palengkenito’, which means ‘mini-market’ in English, The Palengkenito is a mobile grocery store on wheels, developed to bring retail convenience to less-affluent consumers in the Philippines. Specially converted Suzuki minivans are outfitted with a generator, shelving units, food heating elements and a refrigerator. The roving store offers quality pre-packed fresh and processed food, snacks, canned goods, toiletries, and other basic household items in small packages and sachets !

I recall meeting a prospect for a job position last year who had shown me a portfolio of mobile grocery store pictures that he was instrumental in developing – it was either for 6ten or Subhiksha but I am not sure if I remember the name of the chain correctly. Whoever it was, did not take the concept through since I never noticed any mobile grocery stores in Delhi ever after.

The post about Palengkenito got me curious to find out more about a retail concept which just seems tailor made for a country like ours. And just as I wiped the dust of my search I found that a little known man called Asad Shamsi a metal handicrafts exporter, was already selling on wheels for almost an year now in the rural districts of Uttar Pradesh. He calls his Vans -3A Bazaar and it is India’s first mobile retail company!

He has beaten the Big Boys to it by a huge margin. He says that he was inspired by similar retail chains in Europe. He has 5 vans which carry goods worth 2.5 lakhs of rupees everyday from a central warehouse to 700 villages in the JP Nagar district of UP. Since there are only five 3A Bazaar Vans, most of these villages are visited weekly or fortnightly or sometimes even monthly. This suits the villagers just as well since their income is irregular and they do not make large purchases very often. The 3A Bazaar Van is regular event that they wait for and look forward to.

The daily average retail sales of 3 A Bazaar concept are between Rs 8,000 -10, 000 and Mr. Shamsi is already planning to increase the size of his fleet. The Vans look surprisingly natty and I am truly impressed. Asad Shamsi is a man to watch out for in the future of Rural retailing!

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