Pop-up stores are popular the world-over. but have you ever heard of a pop-up bazaar which keeps moving from city to city? ‘Buzallong Bazaar’ is one such roving shopping space that travels to different locations in search of footfalls. The concept is in its nascent stage in India and has numerous challenges to overcome but seems to have a bright future.
A unique “moving” flash retail format called Buzallong Bazaar has been operational for the last two years in Western India, selling products from lesser-known or new kitsch brands that are somewhat quirky, eccentric or innovative in nature. The Bazaar is not stationary – it moves from city to city, staying at a location for a couple of days to vend its wares in specially set up gallery spaces before moving on to the next.
Buzallong commenced its operations in August 2010 with two bazaars – one in Ahmedabad, and the other in Baroda. Shimauli Dave Vora, Founder and Creative Head, sprung the concept with an initial investment of Rs 10 lakh. Putting her Masters in International Marketing from the University of Leeds, UK, and Bachelors in Communications from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, to good use, she created a unique market offering through Buzallong Bazaar.
Unlike an exhibition format which involves brands setting their separate counters, the Buzallong model involves stocking various goods from different brands together for the customers to pick and chose from. Vora says: “There are very few shopping options available to the discerning buyer, especially in the non-metros. This gap in the market triggered the need for ‘Buzallong Bazaar’, a format by which we could bring a collection of novel brands to not just the metros but also to the markets that saw very little options in this product space. It was important to create a bazaar that feeds the desire for lesser-known and not-so-popular products from across the country.”
In each city, the Bazaar is set up in a gallery space of around 2,000 sq.ft. which costs anywhere between `10,000 and `40,000 over two days, including rentals, lights, marketing, collaterals, etc. The customers are usually the youth, between 25 and 40 years of age. There are also customers in the age group of 13–60 years who are attracted to the innovative and fun products being sold at the Bazaar.
The offerings of the Bazaar are spread out across various categories such as home furnishings and accessories as well as personal paraphernalia, jewellery, stationery and clothing. The price ranges from Rs 50 to Rs 5,000. The most popular price band is Rs 150 to Rs 350. The products that sell the most include boxers, gift articles, coasters, mugs, lamps, frames, clocks, glasses and tees.
The Bazaar offers more than 60 brands to its customers such as Filter, Quirkbox, Shor Sharaba, Random in Tandem, Chumbak, Gifts of Love, Purple Jungle, Pyjama Party, Potli, Heads Up for Tails, Moira, Auro Candles, Saint Pure, and Warmly.
For sourcing, Vora works on two models – either buyout or consignment. She strongly believes that the unique retail format of the Bazaar not only gives consumers a platform to procure the largest variety of select kitsch products otherwise unavailable under a single roof, it also helps the brands by giving them a platform to explore fresh markets and reach customers through a new retail opportunity. She is expecting to break even by the third year of operations. “With the pop-up phenomenon hitting Indian shores with the Bazaar, it is becoming a format by which both brands and their consumers can win,” stresses Vora.
Rashi Sanon Narang, Founder, Heads Up For Tails, one of the brands available at the Buzallong Bazaar, says: “Buzallong Bazaars are a unique outlet for us to reach new customers. Their collection of brands and products is diverse and the fact that they exhibit from city to city ensures a good exposure for small businesses like ours.”
Innovative but Challenging
The concept of Buzallong Bazaar is still a fledgling one and faces a number of challenges. The foremost is to get the participating brands to invest in the word-of-mouth marketing strategy that the company follows. Big brands are not too keen on it as they do not consider word-of-mouth as a strong marketing tool. “Another challenge is to set up the space overnight with tons of brands. It gets chaotic, but achieving that is lots of fun too,” says Vora.
Launching the flash retail experience also involves going back to the basics of retailing in each city – finding a site, choosing an edited assortment of products and presenting it to customers in a creative and unique way while engaging effectively with the local community. For this, Vora has a hands-on approach, with a staff of four people backing her up. She believes in on-the-job training for them which happens simultaneously once the Bazaar kicks off and products come in. “It’s a bit tricky to hire staff at one place since the Bazaar is constantly on the move, so we don’t have a specific training approach for our staff as of now,” she says.
Creating a Buzz
The unique nature of the business – popping up over two days in a locality and then disappearing – itself attracts many curious customers. For setting up shop, the company selects smaller cities where the spending power is huge, access to such products is rarely available and, most importantly, where they are loved and appreciated. The Bazaar is also set up at metros where people want new stuff and are willing to spend on funky products. The surprise element of not knowing what all is going to be there at the Bazaar makes people in the metros want to come and have a look, even more than they would like to visit any store in the same city.
Vora explains: “Promoting Buzallong through word-of-mouth is an interesting concept that we have introduced. We try to create buzz through online social networking platforms and offline through consumers in each city. If 1 person knows about Buzallong and is excited, you will have another 10 who can’t wait to come to the Bazaar.”
The company plans to take its Bazaar across different cities in India. Vora will introduce six to eight new cities before Diwali and another six post-Diwali. She also plans to introduce the concept in international markets like Dubai, Singapore, London and New Jersey. Once it goes international, the company will be looking at getting some investors too.