Vendors with degrees try fancy moves on customers

Vendors with degrees try fancy moves on customers

MNC professional helps his father sell wares at weekly market on his day off 

It takes Saksham Jain five seconds to spot a genuine buyer among a crowd of  “window shoppers”. The next couple of minutes are spent in convincing the customer why she should not think twice in buying two pairs of shoes for Rs 150 each. Sold. “My father is even quicker. He can pick out prospective buyers by observing their clothes even if they are at the next stall,” he says as a matter of fact.
 
Having assisted his father for the past 15 years or so, Saksham has picked up most of all that is to learn about selling goods at the weekly market. He can call out to customers like any other salesman. He can change his voice and pitch to attract buyers. He knows the cliches, and can rattle on about his products in one breath. 

But the MBA graduate from a private college in UP claims that he lets his looks do most of the talking. Dressed in low-waist jeans and half-sleeved jacket over a shirt, the 29-year-old man with spiked hair and black-rimmed glasses is willing to hold as many as five pairs of shoes in his hands, if that helps customers decide. 

It has never been an everyday affair for him. As a school and college student, he assisted his father on holidays. Now he uses his weekly off  at the multi-national company in Gurgaon to step in every Saturday at the weekly Shani Bazaar in west Delhi’s Janakpuri. 

Shopkeepers at these markets put up their stalls for five to seven days a week in different areas. “If I work here for one day, my father gets to rest for two days a week. He insists I enjoy my weekend, but I cannot let down the business that has given me my education and job,” says Saksham, who has his weekly leave on Saturday and Sunday. He is not the only educated youth working in the weekly markets. At Shani Bazaar itself there is Ravi Roshan, a BCom graduate who sells designer cutlery. There is another MBA graduate, Shlok Singh, who sometimes steps in for his father as a vegetable vendor. 

Apart from the three, there is a hotel management graduate who left his job at a prominent hotel in the city to set up his own stall to serve different varieties of pasta. Saksham says he knows at least seven other men with degrees in other weekly markets in the city who have been working part-time. “There are tough days too, but there is enormous potential in these markets. Our academic background helps us understand the requirements of customers and sell the products better.”

The Saturday Deccan Herald met him was one of those rare days when the father-son duo was together at the shop ever since Saksham joined the MNC. “Sales go up on Saturday. Customers see him with respect. They do not doubt our products when he is at the shop. They think an educated man working at the weekly market would not cheat them,” says his father Dharam Jain, 56.

Apart from his suave looks that show he is educated, Saksham often throws in English words at customers depending on their background. “Customers are impressed. A couple of shop owners next to our stall have picked up some of these English words and use them while dealing with their own buyers,” says Dharam proudly. 

The work involves transporting shoes in a mini three-wheeler truck, unloading them, setting up the stall, selling them and then packing up everything. The young man does them all with the help of an assistant. 

“I have never felt ashamed doing this work. I never hid it from my friends in college. I do not conceal the fact from my colleagues in office now either. This market helped me get my education and job,” Saksham says.

Unlike his student days, his stable job for the past few years has helped his family not get bogged down when sales are down. Products sold by him vary depending on the season. “It has been shoes for the past two months. I think it will be shirts and T-shirts probably from next week,” he says. 

“Saara branded 500 ka 200 mein, 500 ka 200 mein (all branded, selling Rs 500 worth products for Rs 200),” he says softly, in a shy tone, just to show he knows the popular way of shirt-sellers trying to attract customers. 

But he prefers the one-on-one approach with them. “That is a more effective tool in this bazaar,” he says as another group of customers gathers in front of his stall. 

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