It’s Diana here — I arrived in Pollachi on Sunday morning after taking an overnight bus down from Bangalore. After checking out the new office space and listening to Jackie and Selvan tell me the details of their progress, I was most impressed! Two other members of the Essmart team have just arrived in Pollachi, and we are excited to continue working with stores out here.
Sunday and Monday were relatively relaxing days for us. A few more home furnishings were needed, such as nonstick pots and pans, a drying rack, and an immersive water heater (Jackie and Selvan have been taking cold showers). It felt great to walk around Pollachi and gradually understand the city’s layout and rhythm. Pollachi is still new to me, since I didn’t get much of a chance to explore the city during the jam-packed month of January when we were doing surveys.
Urban retail within Pollachi actually has a lot to offer. There are a surprising number of department stores, along with the smaller specialty stores and the fresh fruits and vegetable markets. There’s even a “supermarket” that has imported foods.
Flashlight and torch selection at a Pollachi department store. These stores are common in the city but not at all common just outside.
However, we also know that even just outside of Pollachi, having a variety in retail is a rarity. The novelty, diversity, quality, and social mission of Essmart’s catalogue are valuable to both shop owners and households. During a visit to one of January’s pilot shops, this point was hammered home. The shop owner we worked with was quite keen on our social mission (he actually plays an active role in the local Lions Club chapter and has invited us to their meetings to talk about Essmart), and he wants to continue working with us and selling our new technology catalogue. He even showed us window space for the catalogue and a place where he would put an Essmart banner.
That store was just one of six that we’ve been talking to. We also have leads on several stores from our January surveys, as some of them had indicated that they want are willing to take the catalogue and demonstration products. It doesn’t seem too difficult to persuade a shop owner to take a catalogue and put it in his window; what’s difficult is ensuring that they actually attempt to sell the technologies. Essmart is different from other distributors because we address this problem.
On a final note: We made our first sale on Monday! We finished up the transaction today, Tuesday. Going through this entire process is a learning experience for us, and we’re working out the kinks in our order placement and delivery system through it.
Testing technologies in our office. The lanterns are also useful when the electricity is cut throughout the day.