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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cheap and best shopping spots in Chennai


Check out what's in store for you!!!

The very word “Chennai” would ring the bell of loud horns sounding on heavy-traffic roads, crowded buses and a bright sun all watching us all day long. But Chennai is getting more and more contemporary day by day. Booming with IT, teeming with the confluence of diverse culture and gleaming with shopping spots that showcase stuffs from the northern-most part,Kashmir to the southern-most tip, Kanyakumari, both cheap and expensive, Chennai shopping spots will definitely keep you engaged and entertained.

 
Why would you be here?
You may be a newbie to Chennai, not sure about where to get stuffs. Or you may even be a tourist to this bubbling city planning to go on a shopping spree once you get here. Watch out! For all the shopping advantages that Chennai offers, there is the disadvantage of having to know some background information to appear as though you have a decent knowledge about shopping in Chennai.

Good things about shopping in Chennai



  1. Most sales people and public in Chennai are very warm towards people who don’t know Tamil and they try their best to help them out in sign language atleast!
  2. All shops are concentrated in one locality with the result, you can get anything from pins to platinum without straining much.
  3. The huge population of Chennai ( Chennai's population alone is close to Singapore's ) has led to the strategy of "Reduce cost, increase turn over" . When the cost is less, many people come to buy and so you get low cost stuff with no comprise in quality.

The Shopaholic syndrome in Chennai
Chennai has become the major IT hub of the country housing innumerous possibilities for IT growth. With more IT jobbers, more is the money in the hands of people. I am really stunned at how the shops in Chennai, are bubbling with people be it a simple one in the street or a stylish one in the malls. No matter whether season or off season, the taste for shopping never ceases.
But before all that, I would tell what the cheap , the best and the must-buys in Chennai are:
  • Wide range of textiles from all over India, both traditional and contemporary, both cheap and expensive, both retail and wholesale.
  • Gold and fashionable, artificial jewellery
  • Art and Handicraft works
If only you know where to get what, you would call Chennai a Shoppers Paradise!

My shopping experience


We moved into Chennai when I was 5 years old and from then, no other shopping place elsewhere could beat Chennai’s variety, quality and economy. I have the thirst for shopping in my blood as my family and extended family allocate quality time every month just to check out the new arrivals. But it took me sometime to explore, compare and conclude the shopping possibilities in the city. In this page, I would like to introduce you to the Chennai’s best yet cheap shopping hang outs!
  • T Nagar (includes Pondy Bazaar)
  • Parry's corner
  • Sowcarpet
So get ready to SMART SHOP…

T NAGAR-The super Saravana Stores

Hypermarts

Here I am writing about the shops where all you need to do is to step in and by the time you come out, your entire family needs would have been met!!!

Saravana Stores:
Saravana Stores is India’s number 1 chain of retail stores in one locality. It is usually visited by people who wanna get various things in one place and at a cheaper rate. Customer service is not that good, but the price makes you ignore the difficulties. But the quality is getting better day by day.
Stuffs to check out:
There are a number of gigantic buidings named “Saravana Stores”, “Saravana Textiles”, “Saravana Jewellery” in and around the street containing variety of following things at an affordable price. Just make sure you check out what the shop sells before entering.Indian and Western Dress and Dress materials, Gold, Silver, Diamond and Platinum, Jewellery, Culinary items, Electric and electronic items, Furniture, Eatables including ice creams, Fashion accessories, Footwear, Branded cosmetics.
Good:
  • Really affordable
  • Quick billing counters
  • Easy to carry big purchases out through the back entrance avoiding the crowd.
Not so good:
You cant’t expect the salespersons to treat you like a King but get less from your purse!!!
Saravana's branches in Chennai

1. Saravana Stores (Brammandamai) opposite to panagalPark
2. Saravana Selvarathinam (Opposite to Ranganathan Street)
3. Saravana Selvarathinam (Jewellers) Opposite to Prince, Usman Road
4. Saravana Stores (Old) T Nagar, Ranganathan Street
5. Saravana Stores (Anju Adukku - Which Means 5 floor)
6. Saravana Stores(Near Railway Station - Ranganathan Street) for Groceries and Vegetables.
7. Saravana Selvarathinam (Jewellers), Ranganathan Street                                                 
8. Saravana Stores, Purasawalkam


 

Big bazaar is a recently publicized hyper mart selling cheap and best quality garments, groceries, home apparels, accessories, footwear and what not. It was opened in Chennai following the model of Wal Mart. To be very frank, Chennaiites don't prefer shopping in malls. Apart from independant Big Bazaars in the city, Big Bazaar is also opening up in malls which has made shopping in the mall really easy and cheap. When I first visited Big bazaar, I purchased for Rs.2000, but after adding out all the discounts, I just had to pay Rs. 1500! Perhaps, a business strategy to attract customers by increasing the price way too high in the tag and discounting it at the counter!! But despite all that, Big Bazaar has done decent justice to ensuring that the quality doesn't degrade while decreasing the price. When you visit Big Bazaar, just keep your ears sharp for instant discounts. they keep announcing some discount or the other every 10 minutes. Watch out for that and run to that section to find awesome discounts!!!
Good:
  • Great discounts during festivities.
  • Branded clothes are very cheap
  • Best place to buy western wear for women
Not so good:
  • They don't allow trials on certain clothes which can't be bought without trying

RmKV Silks Store

RmKV

RmkV is comparatively costlier than the other shops, but you would never return home disappointed after your RmKV experience !
Good:
  • Ever wanted to drape a saree woven with mythological characters or intricat kolams or Paintings of Ravivarma? Have you ever wanted your saree to narrate the stories of Krishna Leela or show a glimpse of the wonders of the world? Then get a themed silk. Definitely a proud asset .
  • Generally, a silk saree is stitched and converted into a bharatanatyam (traditioanl dance form of Tamil Nadu) costume.But dancers should spend soe time hnting for the right patterned saree to be converted. RmKV reduces that job by presenting the right kind of sarees to be stitched into a bharatanatyam dress starting from Rs.2000 to Rs.9000.The shop has sarees suitable to be converted to bharatanatyam costumes at cheap rates.
  • Of all the specialities, the most publicized is the 'Bridal Seven'. Sarees to suit the seven occassions of South Indian Marriages.
  • Want a 2 in 1 saree? Try their Reversible silk, a saree which can be worn on both sides.
  • Confused about which color to buy? Why not get the world's most colourful saree with 16,000 colors?
  • You can get innovative dresses esp. sarees that will make you stand out from the crowd.
  • Excellent customer service
Not so good:
You might shell out some extra pennies and you might not realize it!
denim saree
saree with a pouch

Kumaran Silks

Kumaran Silks, better known as "Naalu maadi kumaran" (4 floor) is the destination if you want to try out strange kinds of sarees.
Good:
  • There are 3 D sarees which show one image when seen from one side and a totally different one when seen from the other.
  • "Sarees with pouch" seem to have got a place even for your mobiles.
  • Are you a denim freak even when it comes to buying sarees? Here is Denim Saree for you!
  • Saree-draping is made easier than ever. A ready-made saree stands chic on you in seconds.
  • My personal favourite here is "Butterfly saree" which make you seem like a colorful butterfly when you drape it.
Not so good:
  • Though this place is a must-visit for sarees, you don't find other outfits interesting here.

Pothys

Pothys claims itself to be the temple of silks with a huge colllection of salwars, dress materials, men's wear,
Good:
  • Samudrika pattu- symbolising the "sarva lakshana" (the glorious features of a woman)
  • Parampara Pattu- woven with the contemporary Uppada Jacquard work in the traditional Kanchi silk.
  • Vastrakala Pattu- blend of North Indian embroidary on the south Indian pure silk.
  • Kutty sarees- sarees to fit kids from aged 1 to 9 years!
  • Micro silks: Perfect alternate to silks with a visible elegance and comfort suitable for daily use.
  • You not only just go shop and come, but Pothys engages you in many other interesting stuffs like tarrot card reading, free saplings etc.
Not so good:
Sometimes, the stuffs might look very dull but the tag might seem as though they are overstating it.

Nalli Silk House

Nobody who had ever lived in Chennai or come to Chennai would have been without visiting Nalli.The Nalli is the oldest store to get established in Chennai. You can see a lot of foreigners frequenting Nalli. One is because of the traditioan Indianish yet upscale ambience, with not much of unnecessary extravaganzas, selective range of hand-picked and unique sarees with good customer service. Though Nalli doesn't participate much in the advertising competition, it has got a place for itself in the Chnnaiites' heart. Even today, we purchase bridal sarees in Nalli only.
Good:
It has something in store for everyone-brial wear, ethnic wear, cocktail wear, corporate wear and casual wear.
Not so good:
Western outfits lack variety

Chennai Silks

What is shopping in Chennai without going to the Chennai silks?? It has a widespread reach with sprawling showrooms in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Trichy, Karur and Ernakulam. With a franchisee showroom in Paris (France).Though Chennai Silks seems not to be in the race to release new sarees with innovative names, its stock is undoubtedly good and long lasting and superstitiously lucky too in my opinion!!! If you go to Chennai Silks don't forget to check out the the guiness record set silk saree.
Good:
  • Nevertheless, the silk collection includes wedding silks, reception silks and gift silks.
  • Chennai silks provides you with vouchers to gift your loved ones.
Not so good:

The shop gets huge traffic during season that it might lack variety during off season.



Shop while you walk

Shops along the pavement in Pondy Bazaar also sell cheap tops and pants.
Some Chennaiites still stick to buying textiles in the smaller shops on the roads. The reason is that they stay away from competing with he giants but showcase handpicked collection of dresses. And you can have a command over your shopping once to get acquainted there.

Personalized salwars in an hour

And the recent trend about Indian salwars is to get the material and stitch it in a personalized way, and Chennaiites too have fallen to the fashion. There are umpteen number of tailor shops overflowing with customers in cubicles, deep inside the street.
  • Just get a material from a store
  • Specify your design requirements
  • Spend about an hour in any of the shops outside
  • And come back to find your new salwars at stunning stitching charges from Rs.30 (Saravana Stores alone) to Rs.400.

I got my dress...What next? Matching accessories!

Wearing accessories to match the dress that we wear is becoming an increasingly popular culture in India. It all started from the college students craze towards fashion and now any soul with an X chromosme is crazy about fashion jewellery.
Pandian Bangles:
A small shop but with really good accessories like bangles, big earrings, chains and cosmetics. You will find accessory sets matching your dress from Rs.25 to Rs.3000. When you are in T Nagar, do pay a visit here.
You will find good collections in Saravana Stores itself. But the stuff there moves very fast. There is an entire floor devoted for it. You may be looking for your wedding or a small function or even to make necks turn in your college. The shop houses an exotic collection of fashion jewellery for all age groups in a wide price range.But the stuffs in the shop are really fast moving. So it depends on the time you visit.
Road side shops especially in Pondy Bazaar, showcase a variety of trendy ear rings, cheap fancy watches and bags, a replica of whatever is found in Saravana stores, but you should be lucky enough to get quality ones. The surprising thing is that you don’t find the same things the very next week!!

Bags Bags and more bags

Cheap bags at Road-side Shops

Petit shops at Ranganathan Street and platform shops at Pondy Bazaar sell pretty bags from all over India at a damn cheap price. Bags from North India can be bought at half of their original prices from the road side dealers. But all you got to remember is, if the shop keeper claims a bag to cost Rs. 250 (~$5) , tell him you bought the same bag for your friend last week in some other shop for Rs.100! If he refuses, say angrily you will get it in that shop itself and walk away! You will be called back for negotiation. 90% of the times you will be given for the price you asked for. Even otherwise, you will save enough ! 

My collections

From the platform shops of T Nagar
My favourite ear ring from JhillMill

JhillMill

Shops exclusively dedicated for accessories might sometimes be costly, but it took some time of comparisons and conclusions to really decide which shop’s stuff are worth the cost.
JhillMill is one such outlet dedicated for fashion jewellery and accessories, which has earned enough customers in just one year of opening. Most of the most of the hosts in Tamil TV Channels wear accessories from JhillMill and that’s the main reason for its popularity. You might have to take your mind off from the flattering prices of the Ranganathan Street and come here, but believe me, you get really adorable stuffs that will last for a lifetime. If you are lucky, you might get special offers too!!!The shop is the best if you are buying for once in a lifetime occasions. I have so far bought around 25 earrings from JhillMill and they are all the centre of attractions wherever I go!!
Stuff to check out:
Wide range of both chunky and elegant chains and necklaces, Attractive hair ornaments and brooches, Bangles and bracelets that look like all made of gold, platinum and diamond, Romantic rings and anklets, Trendy bindis and tattoos and very stylish sarees too.
Match a saree with an accessory or even get an accessory here and match it with a saree!

Bombay Dyeing

Bombay Dyeing is India's one of the largest producer of Textiles. Unlike extravagant dealers like Pothys or Chennai Silks which don't produce textiles but have their choice of clothes custom-made from the mills, Bombay Dyeing's showroom showcases their stocks. I remember my mom telling me that in her days, when the boom for textiles had not set in, they used to get a material from Bombay Dyeing(which had a monopoly in textile production long ago) and get it stitched. Today, you can still fall back on Bombay Dyeing for good quality curtains, bed spreads and school uniforms. The hot news is that Bombay Dyeing has just introduced its exquisite bed sheets of the following category.
Sheets that can glow in the dark
Sheets that come with a special fragrance(Rose, lavender,musk)
Sheets enriched with Vitamin E( Vitamin E helps you stay young! A friend of mine got it at Rs.2499 [$50=Re.1])
Sheets with extra soft feel and a easily breathable ones too.
Sheets which can absorb perspiration and prevent allergy and bacterial growth. 
The important landmark to remember. from the bus stand you need to cross over this junction to reach any shop

How to reach T Nagar

If you come to Chennai via a Standard Tour and Travel Agency, shopping in T Nagar would definitely be included as a part of their schedule. Just ensure that they have allotted a solid time ( minimum 3 hours) to be spent there. Because most of the Tour Agencies, to seem as though they have covered many places, tend to squeeze in the shopping time. Just setting foot in the shopping spot and coming back without anything to take home can be disappointing.
If you are already residing in Chennai, try to use the public transport when you go to T Nagar for shopping.
By Train:
Train is the most comfortable means.You need to get down at the Mambalam station. The moment you come out of the station, you’ll set foot in the ranganathan street only. Just walk straight through the street and you’ll reach Usman Road. Local residents are kind enough to guide you.
By Bus:
Almost all places have buses stopping at the T Nagar bus stops. Walk out of the bus stop and follow the line of shops. You would realize that you have started shopping !
By car:
Planning to come to T Nagar by car? The parking space is not that well organized. You may have to park your car and walk a while to get to the shops. And moreover, vehicles would be stopped at a farther distance itself, during peak seasons. So decide one primary shop where you are going to do majority shopping and try to park the car in the lanes close to that shop.
By auto:
You may also take an auto if you are staying close by. But make sure you bargain!

Parry's corner

Godown street:
Not satisfied with the cheap rates that T Nagar offers? Come to the 200 year old God's own street, better known as Godown Street, which was once the hub of textile businesses of South India. The street was once open to only whole sale traders, but today with the advent of retail giants, this street is missing customers. You get the same textiles that you can get in T Nagar, but very easily with 30-40% discount.
Good:
In an effort to attract customers, lot of imported textiles are available from China, Taiwan, Thailand and pakisthan.
Not so good:
You need to bargain a lot.
 
How to reach Paris
By Train:
If you go by train, get down at the "Fort" Station and Godown street is walkable from there.
By bus:
Take buses with boards "Broadway" or "High Court" or "Parri Munai". Take the help of the conductor.

Sowcarpet, simply superb

Located in the northern Chennai, Sowcarpet is filled with North Indians. The shopping possibilities of this place is quite unknown to even residents who have been here for years. The reason is that, unlike T Nagar, it is not well connected by road or by rail, with the result, and you need special bargaining skill to get things there. But if you shop once there, you would never feel like getting lehengas, cholis or any north Indian or western outfit anywhere else. If you are looking for jazzy dress materials with good workmanship, you can check out a wide range of things. And if you are looking for elegant and chic western wear, you won't come beck dissatisfied.
Shops to check out:
Vijay Tex, in NSC Bose Road, has a good colection of stuff to make you shop till you drop. Others you can choose in half an hour, depending on your taste just by window shopping.
Good:
Not many people frequent, so the place gives you a lot of breathing space.
Not so good:
If you are new to Chennai, you need the help of a Tamil speaking person

How to reach Sowcarpet

Sowcarpet is a bit far away from both railway station and the bus stand.
Car would be comfortable as you will find good parking space too.
Use the directions above to reach Parry's corner and from there, you get cheap autos to Sowcarpet.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

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