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Mush takes mature turn
- V-Day splurge powered by 30-plus

Age no bar is the verdict in the countdown to Valentine's Day 2006. Puppy love is selling less mush merchandise than middle-aged musings and the popularity of pink heart balloons is easily matched by the demand for household goods.

'Valentine's Day has now moved away from being just a teenage event to broader age-group participation. It's a good excuse to show your love for your parents, friends and maybe revive old ties,' says Gautam Shroff at the Archies outlet in City Centre, targeting 25 per cent rise in sales over last year, thanks to cards and soft toys, butter knives and ashtrays.

Bath accessories and beanbags enjoy pride of place along with bunnies in caps and heart-topped hair bands at Landmark. 'For the 30-plus looking for a Valentine's Day gift, utility is top priority,' says Gautam Jatia, CEO, Landmark, explaining why the home accessories segment is doing so well this month.

It's no different at the Nik Nish chain, where table lamps and mugs share rack space with glass roses and heart-shaped wall hangs. 'There is no age bar, it is celebration time for all those who are young at heart,' smiles Ranjan Purkayastha, general manager, Nik Nish. And with exposure to television and Internet, the young-at-heart brigade is swelling each year, he feels.

Even at the jewellery stores, investment is gradually scoring over impulse when it comes to picking a V-Day pendant.

And yet, it's all about love. Every item ' for kids or for the kitchen ' is in sync with the flavour of this February fortnight. So even a table lamp is called 'love' and a butter knife comes with a heart-shaped handle.

'Unlike the college-going crowd, Valentine's Day for the not-so-young is less about the adrenaline rush and more about hitting the pause button in a busy schedule, and buying and doing something special,' says entrepreneur Sidharth Pansari of Crossword.

So, is the teenager already tiring of the V-Day fad' Jatia of Landmark feels the craze in that age group peaked from 2000 to 2002, but footfall and sales figures have kept on rising with the older age groups going into splurge mode.

'The lack of V-Day enthusiasm among teenagers can be 'blamed' on the entertainment boom. There are malls, multiplexes, coffee shops, lounges and night clubs for them to spend time and get up close all the time. So, February 14 becomes almost inconsequential,' feels Hem Dhillon, director of B.E.D on Ballygunge Circular Road.

Second-year student Saket Arora seconds that: 'There is so much happening round the year that one doesn't really wait for Valentine's Day anymore.'

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