Mar 21, 2012

The vegetable vendor

Though I hate shopping in general, I love to shop for vegetables. The fresh produce, different colors and textures give a nice feeling and inspiration towards cooking. The supermarkets these days stock up different varieties of vegetables but sometimes they don't seem fresh. I hate the sight of packed ones because invariably, there will be one or two veggies that had gone bad. I'm the sort of person who like to examine each vegetable and pick the ones I like. Moreover, we end up with more plastic because of the so-called-modern habit of pulling a plastic cover for each vegetable. If I ask the salesperson who weighs the vegetables to combine 2-3 varieties in one plastic cover, he would give me one nasty look as though I'm asking for something stupid.

I have been shopping online for groceries for the past few months because I cannot step out of my home leaving behind my 5 month old daughter. Before that, I used to go to this friendly neighborhood vegetable shop. It's a small place, neatly stocked with fresh vegetables. The vendor who runs this place is a friendly person, always willing to suggest what has arrived fresh. Being a regular customer, he would immediately recognize me and my husband. The variety of fresh produce he had was just awesome, with many locally grown veggies and fruits which you wouldn't normally find in a supermarket. He allows us to take half a bunch of greens - ability to customize according to customer's needs. We used to carry a big jute bag where he dumps the veggies as and when we order. Sometimes, he would even suggest us to take more "why 800 gms of tomatoes, madam? take 1 kg" We couldn't deny, of course.

There have been discussions around how allowing FDI in retail will impact small vendors in the country. I strongly believe, given our habits and culture, small vendors will flourish, even when organized retail picks up big time. Their level of customization, personalization and just being friendly to customers can never be matched by the biggies.

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