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Neighbourhood stationery stores unable to fulfill customer's needs

Ten unused handmade notebooks, a big fishbowl filled with confetti and multi-coloured writing accessories, pastel highlighters, a mega-pack of fine liners, Japanese gel pens, cutesy pocket journals, a desk calendar filled with scribbles, a Washi tape, a Washi tape dispenser, multi-coloured sticky notes.... this is the abundance on Ujwala Salunkhe’s work desk. A stationery tourist at Starmark, Ujwala finds new comrades for her desk every week. “There was a time when weekends meant spending time at my favourite stationery store, testing every new pen, examining every new book. But in the last year, I found that many bookstores and lifestyle stores are a haven for a stationery addict like me. I find the cutest accessories which are difficult to get in a regular stationery store,” says Salunkhe, an advertising professional.

With malls and book stores providing the convenience of one-stop-shop experience, customisation and even good deals, the neighbourhood stationery stores are suffering from the poignancy of obsolescence. 

Foreign and fancy

“I have a small stationery store near my house but I can’t remember the last time I went there because it has stuff that caters more to school and college-going kids,” says Malathi Krishna. “As a working professional, my needs are different from the sort of stuff available at the store. That’s why I’d much rather visit the Odyssey store on the main road which has pens and books that are more suited to my needs,” she says.

With foreign brands entering the market and providing quality products at relatively reasonable rates, customers are seeking fancy, personalised products. “I didn’t want to pick up another Classmate book or a regular five-subject notebook,” said Shivani M, a first-year college student. “I didn’t even bother visiting the stationery store near my house because I know that this is all I would find if I went there. I went directly to the Miniso store in Express Avenue and found a cute notebook that was very me. I spend most of my time in college and I want to feel good every time I take out my notebook, and that wouldn’t happen if I picked up a regular notebook that everyone else in my class has.”

Even for art and craft supplies, these stores offer the perfect platter of stationery haul. “I have very specific art and craft supplies that I use and those are not available in the smaller stationery stores,” said S Meghana, a fine arts student in a city college.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019