The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cup fever: sports goods sale hits top gear

Cricket fans may be despondent at India losing out in in the World Cup final, but the city’s traders dealing in cricket gear has more than one reason to smile.

The performance of the Indian cricket team in the quadrennial showpiece is reason enough to ensure increased interest in the sport and huge sales for the next season, say traders.

In fact, during the World Cup league matches, sales had shot up by 10 per cent, and even in the ensuing “off season” the traders feel that business will be brisk, unlike other years.

Dibyendu Sarkar, owner of Sarkar and Company on Mahatma Gandhi Road, one of the oldest sports goods stores of the city, feels that India’s wonderful performance will help sports goods dealers tide over the recession.

“Parents seem to have come to terms with their children’s ambition to follow in the footsteps of city hero Sourav Ganguly. Turning to cricket as a career is not a bad idea any more,” says Sarkar.

In the past one year, Sarkar has sold over 750 bats (Kashmir willow and Jalandhar willow) and a sizeable number of gloves (ranging from Rs 115 to Rs1,160) and batting pads (Rs 500-1,500) at a profit of Rs 75,000-80,000 a year. The average sales in cricket items in the city have hovered around 800 bats and an equal number of gloves and pads in the past 12 months.

During the World Cup, the traders in the Maidan market and on Mahatma Gandhi Road saw a huge demand for even SG bats, one of the costliest (in the range of Rs 7,300) on offer, followed by SS (Ton) bats.

Both children and parents are in the mood to emulate the heroes. “I got my seven-year-old son admitted in a coaching centre at Deshapriya Park. I am here to pick up all that the coach has asked for him,” said a beaming Arunavo Sengupta at the Maidan market, showing a long list.

And making hay are the likes of Arun Roy of Vivekananda Sports Club. “If India had won the Cup, then business would have been even better. But we are not complaining either,” he said.

So good is the going that some traders have even started stocking cricket gear to cash in on the Cup fever. “I have switched to selling bats and pads from football, which has a dwindling following,” says Arup Jana at the Maidan market.

Satyabati Mullick of Bengal Trading Syndicate could not have timed her return to business better. “My shop was closed for six months for renovation. Since the opening, not only have sales in cricket gear picked up, I have also exhausted my stock of India jerseys and caps. Although the tournament is over, kids still want India T-shirts.” Mullick said. “I hope the lull in the market is over,” she added.

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