Cycling into the toy world

Glorious present
Last Updated 19 March 2013, 13:54 IST

One may succeed in bargaining with shopkeepers in this market but when it comes to coaxing the children, there is a little that the parents can do as Cycle Market in Jhandewalan Extension has an array of toys to entice the kids — who are the real ‘buyers’ here.

Pink, blue, green, red, yellow — you name the colour and there is an option. Be it the popular cartoon character Doraemon available in the form of a piggy bank or the age old doll house in pink, the shops offer a plethora of toys.

For those who are wondering what made way for toys in a cycle market, Metrolife will take you back to the era of political emergency. In 1975, the bicycle traders in Chandni Chowk were asked to shift to Jhandewalan Extension.

“But only half of the lot shifted here while the other half still works there,” tells Krishan Kumar of Zamindar Cycle House.

“On August 18, 1975, I was the first one to come to this market. We shifted here with a hope that we will be sent back after emergency ends but it never happened. As the generation and time changed, bicycles were replaced fast by two wheelers, thus slowing down the business of selling cycles. Things turned out so gloomy that several traders were forced to either sell their shops or to let them out for want of money.”

While not everyone may have been successful in raking in a moolah in late 70s, however, with real estate prices shooting across the roof in this area — which is a mere stone throw’s away from the commercial hub of Karol Bagh — the shop owners now easily earn nothing less than sixty thousand rupees a month on renting their shops.

After decades of struggle, the new millennium brought some hope. In 2002, the toy sellers from Sadar Bazar started settling down here especially the importers who sell large amount of varieties but have inadequate space at their existing shops in Sadar, decided to open parallel shops here.

“The existing shopkeepers had to go through a legal battle with DDA to get the shops freehold and permission to change the trade. It was then that I  switched over to recharging mobile phones. We got a lot of customers from the nearby offices,” shares Bhupinder Singh of return GIFT shoppee.

He now sells return gifts and is one of the survivors from the original lot that had shifted from Chandni Chowk in 1975.

“Few got spaces in nearby Anarkali Complex and refused to shift here because this area was deserted. But with the advent of Chinese products, the market is turning into a ‘Chinese market’ and blooming by the day in terms of business and realty rates whereas it is the opposite in Anarkali Complex,” he adds, while displaying a balloon filler to a wailing young boy who is shopping on the occasion of upcoming festival of Holi.

Though fifty percent shops in the area are in the business of toys, few have stuck to selling cycles and even added battery operated bikes, cars and even prams and walker.

All these are China-made products and don’t come with a company name but shopkeepers give a assurance, though verbal, to their gullible little buyers that they can be repaired. Even treadmills and stationary bikes with latest technology are available for sale. Some new entrants in the market include shops which sell party accessories and swings.

(Published 19 March 2013, 13:54 IST)

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