Imagine a shop which is operated by no one, where people can purchase what they want and drop the required amount in a box at the counter.
Now before you jump to state the obvious, i.e., the impossibility of such an arrangement, we’d like to draw your attention to a quaint little shop in the coastal village of Azhikode near Kannur.
Opened on January 1, this ‘self-service’ shop located in Vankulathuvayal, is a pioneering initiative spearheaded by the Janashakti Charitable Trust, an NGO engaged in welfare activities for the differently-abled in the region.
While it is undoubtedly interesting that this shop functions without a shopkeeper, that is not its only unique characteristic.
Every product in the shop has been created by four differently-abled individuals and students of the Asraya Special school in Kannur, and it manages to rake in a minimum of Rs 1000 every day!
You can find products like soap, washing powder, phenyl, toilet cleaner, hand wash, candles, cloth bags, and many other items on offer.
A board at the entrance states that “This shop has no shop keeper or salespersons. You can pick up what you want, check the price tags and deposit the money in the cash box.”
Speaking to The Better India, Sugunan PM, the Convener of the Trust says, “We have been working with the differently-abled community in Azhikode and are very well aware of their lives and struggles. One of our beneficiaries, who is physically impaired from the waist below, used to make utility products and pencils from paper but seldom found buyers. And because of his disability, the possibility of marketing or finding bulk orders seemed bleak. We wanted to change that and give a chance to all such enterprising entrepreneurs. That’s how the idea of the self-service shop came up.”
So how does it work?
“Although it was our idea, the initiative has found great support from people across Azhikode. The shop is opened every day at 6 am by the shopkeeper selling vegetables in the adjacent shop and remains open throughout the day. It shuts down at 10 pm. While we have installed a CCTV camera to prevent any untoward activities, the physical presence and support of nearby shopkeepers has been central for the stall’s success,” explains Suganan.
The members of Janashakti Trust have established an excellent working structure as well.
“All the individuals are paid the entire amount in advance for their products when our team goes to their house for procurement. This was done to ensure that low sales do not affect any of our shop partners. But fortunately, we have found great support from day one,” shares Sugunan.
Many people have reached out to the Janashakti Trust from across the Kannur district so that similar shops can be set up in their neighbourhoods.
“Although we only have this pilot shop functioning at present, plans to open a new shop in the premises of the Kannur Cooperation, are in the pipeline. We are considering other areas too, but currently our resources are limited,” Sugunan concludes.
What a remarkable initiative! We appreciate the efforts of the Janashakti Trust and hope that thus shop inspires similar initiatives across the country.
To get in touch with the Trust or provide any form of aid, you can reach out to Sugunan at 9446161616.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)