The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Old vs New

Coffee House

The look and feel are the same, the product basket seems timeless, and the charm ' for a few ' has not faded.

'Frankly, we are not interested in making it a modern caf' outlet. This place has a different appeal which still attracts footfall,' says Deepankar Dasgupta of the most famous landmark on College Street since 1945.

Despite the competition and changing profiles of students (the prime target group), the adda address attracts around 700 to 800 people on a normal day (the count crosses the 1,000 mark on Saturdays). Coffee, pakora and cold coffee top the choice chart. Quality fare and affordable too ' the highest price tag on the menu is boneless chilli chicken, Rs 40 ' is something the India Coffee Workers Co-operative Society, running the show since 1958, vows never to dilute. But it is trying to minimise losses, the only 'weak point', through initiatives like taking Coffee House offerings to institutions beyond College Street and packaging culture with coffee.

Coffee Shop

Place: Park Street;
Age: 2 years;
Average daily footfall:
Highest price tag: Kaapi Nirvana Rs 76,
Lowest price tag: Chocochip Cookies Rs 15
Crowd profile: The yuppie brigade's hangout, from students to young professionals.
Strengths: The location, the vibrant atmosphere and the fact that it's in
Space crunch at peak hours
Voiceover: 'The variety is not available at traditional coffee shops. Also, the ambience suits the young and trendy' ' Sudipta Sengupta, GM, marketing


College Street

Browse, what browse' College Street still plays it by the book ' no-nonsense, over-the-counter sales. 'From books on medical science to literature and astrophysics to fiction, we offer everything. We also guide our buyers,' boasts Arabinda Dasgupta of Dasgupta and Company, in the business since 1886.

Creating a comfortable ambience can only be part of selling, he stresses, arguing why College Street stores continue doing brisk business. 'I can offer you more than 60,000 titles and that is my strength,' says Dasgupta.

The weakness' No parking facilities and poor infrastructure in the area are all that the old-timer would admit to.


Name: Crossword
Place: 8 Elgin Road
Age: 9 months
Average daily footfall: 1,000 (weekday); 1,500 (weekend)
Average monthly sales: 4 lakh (weekday); Rs 7 lakh (weekend)
Strength: Depth in merchandise and browsing facility. Customers are allowed to go through sealed books, take books to the cafeteria and read.
Voiceover: 'Earlier, people would send their drivers with a slip to buy books from College Street. But the readers now need to spend time with books... And this is a bookstore-cum-hangout'

' Sidharth Pansari, MD.


Single-screen Theatre

Even as Priya Entertainment branches out to Burdwan and Midnapore, its owner Arijit Dutta has no option but to count down to the closure of Globe.

Established in 1827 as Grand Opera House, Globe has been an entertainment landmark for decades. But over the past few years, it's all gone wrong with plummeting footfall and mounting maintenance costs.

'It pains me to shut it down but I can't go on losing anything between Rs 40,000 and Rs 50,000 every week,' says Dutta.

While the price tag of everything from the ticket to the popcorn may be just a fraction of its multiplex counterparts, the appaling condition of the theatre ' and its surroundings ' is reason enough for viewers to steer clear. Even multiplex success stories like the Chokher Balis and the Villages have struggled to bring in the audiences.

As Globe joins a growing list of city cinemas closing down, the multiplex vs single-screen theatres battle couldn't be more lopsided.


Name: INOX (Forum)
Place: 10/3 Elgin Road
Age: 16 months
On offer: A 'truly international movie-viewing experience' ' Christie's projection system, Harkness screens and Dolby digital sound. The attached caf' Refuel serves coleslaw sandwich and bhelpuri. The events every week and freebies on offer add to the movie-going experience.
Average weekday ticket sales: 3,000
Strengths: Up to 24 shows a day, up to 13 films to choose from, a choice of movies from not only Bollywood, Tollywood or Hollywood but even Tamil, Telugu and Punjabi blockbusters. Large families can split up, choosing films to go to, according to taste.
Weakness: The price of the tickets, the food, the car park ' all add up to a big costly outing.
Way forward: A third INOX in town
Voiceover: 'INOX is an entertainment destination. INOX Forum is our most profitable property in India. The returns from INOX City Centre are improving' ' Sumanta Ray, regional marketing manager


Garment Shop

Mohan's at B-93 New Market has seen it all ' the ups, the downs and the down under (also known as Parkomat). This 35-year-old garments shop stocks menswear and boasts a clientele that has stayed loyal for 10-15 years. The customer-is-god approach is what brings them back, despite the behind-the-times setting. But the survival kit is renovation, post-Parkomat of course. 'We have lost out on the younger crowd because the malls provide lifestyle along with clothes. Moreover, there is so much available under one roof that people who are pressed for time prefer going there,' admits Naresh Sakhrani.


Retail Megastore

Name: Pantaloons;
Gariahat and Camac Street
Age: August 1997 (Gariahat); June 2001 (Camac Street)
On offer: Apparel, cosmetics, perfumes, jewellery, home linen, crockery and a cafeteria.
Average monthly footfall: 75,000 at Gariahat and 1.1 lakh at Camac Street
Strengths: Wide range; not too swanky to be intimidating, not run-down either; motivated staff
Weaknesses: Due to the 'next-door' image, the elite stay away; failure to tap the marriage market.
Way forward: A move towards fashion apparel and replenishment of racks every 45 days, taking into account low attention span of GenX buyers.
Voiceover: 'It gives the new independent customer freedom of choice and comparison, in a great ambience with huge variety, young and enthusiastic sales associates and no pressure to buy. It's basically a chillout zone' ' R. S. Rekhi, head operations (east), Pantaloon Retail (India) Ltd

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