A lane from yore

A lane from yore

A lane from yore

Long before the high-end jewellery shops on Commercial Street established themselves, people flocked to Jewellers Street for all their purchase. None of these hole-in-the-wall stores had air-conditioning or fancy display cases with colourful lighting but customers religiously visited them nonetheless.

There was a time when the only way to go about buying jewellery was getting it custom-made. But now, customers hardly have time to wait for the salesmen to pull out the second piece. It is this rush that has marked the decline of the popular street. 

Although they face stiff competition from the bigger brands, the shop owners of Jewellers Street are not ready to give up. The thin lane that lies perpendicular to Commercial Street has been the hub for gold and silver buyers and sellers for over a 100 years.

Arun Pandu, who is a fourth generation jeweller at a store, says that their business has gone down by about 20 to 30 per cent but that doesn’t matter. “You don’t give up on a business that is making you profits just because it isn’t doing as good as before. There are just too many shops right now and the population isn’t growing...well, it is but they won’t be buying things for a few more years,” he says. 

All the shops on the road refuse to shut-shop because they don’t want to end years of hard work. Arun says it doesn’t make sense to put his hand into something he has no or little experience in when there is the family business to fall back on. “We were born and brought up in a jeweller’s family. It is our ancestral business. How can we leave it?” says Santosh. 

There are some like MS Prakash who refuses to accept that his store may not have a successor. “This business has come down from my great-grandfather and has been here for almost a 100 years. Business has gone down drastically but it wasn’t like this before.” 

According to Prakash, there weren’t any jewellers on Commercial Street before. He says the moment the bigger businesses started popping up, the shops on Jewellers Street started having problems.

“People want ready-made items these days so they head over to the big shops that can display many things at once.” CC Jagadish says that the only reason he is able to survive is because he makes custom designs.

“My daughter-in-law turns old jewellery into more fashionable designs. If we were competing against the big stores in conventional jewellery, we wouldn’t stand a chance.” 

They all say that they have loyal customers who keep coming back to them. “We maintain our quality, that’s the only way to go about it. We have the children of our customers coming to purchase things,” says Satish, one of the owners of a store.

Arun says that people are enamoured by the bigger shops when they first open but they end up coming back to them because they work out cheaper. “They have a complicated style of functioning. The first two or three times when they open, people will go, but after that they will fall back on us because we are more flexible. The making charge wastage is also higher there.” 

What do they expect will happen in future? Do they want their children to take over their business? Santosh has a daughter so he puts his hopes on Satish’s son. “We don’t want to force them. They are still children. They should get a basic foundation.

We will let them get their education and then decide for themselves,” says Satish. Prakash hasn’t lost hope even though all his children have taken up different career paths. “My grandchildren are always there; it is our family business and it will continue.” 

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