Bagri market traders are working from home to keep their business afloat and minimise their damages before the festive season.
“For us it is a matter of survival. We are clutching on to every straw,” says Mumtaz Ahmed of Raju Opti-Vision whose shop on the ground floor was completely gutted in the September 16 fire. The eye-wear trader could not salvage any stock from his shop but bounced back soon and started rebuilding his business with help from well-wishers.
“I did not have any place to use as a shop where customers can visit me for dealings. The godown has no space after stocking the goods. So, I decided to work from home. For people working in big business corporations it may be about flexible working hours and optimum work life balance for small traders like us it is the last resort,” said Mumtaz while taking a break from calling up his customer in his central Kolkata home.
Close to 200 shops were completely gutted in the fire while many were partially affected. Big businessmen rented shops in the nearby markets and resumed their trade immediately to minimise their losses. Such a huge demand for space has shot up the rents in the Burrabazar making it out of bounds for smaller traders who are either working from home or moving into shops owned by relatives.
Girish Vasandani who owned two shops on the first floor selling stationary has moved in his stock to an uncle’s place in College Street.
“I start my day early calling up all my business associates and enquiring what they need. Festive season is round the corner and we cannot ditch those who depend on us throughout the year. Once I am through with taking orders and I go to my uncle’s shop and despatch the merchandise,” said Vasandani.
In a display of Burrabazar business spirit the Bagri market traders are making several changes to their schedule to rebuild their businesses and meet the orders before the festive season.
While some are starting early and making phone calls to their business associates from home itself others have shifted to the shops of their relatives to conduct their business till there is some clarity on the future of Bagri market which was on fir for over 82 hours last week.
TOI had reported last week how several traders have already moved into new shops and showrooms and pasted their numbers outside their Bagri market outlets for customers who do not face problem in contacting them. The traders’ association has been co-ordinating with agencies like the police, the fire department and the KMC to avail permission to resume business in the fire ravaged Bagri market.
“Working from home cannot be a permanent solution. Thousands of lives depend on Bagri market and the festive season is when we conduct the bulk of our business. We are in constant touch with several agencies. We have already given an undertaking to the police and the chief minister’s office assuring we will repair the market with our own funds and install the most modern fire-fighting system,” said Bagri Market Central Kolkata Traders’ Welfare Association.