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The pull of the Psybabas

Source : BUSINESS_STANDARD
Last Updated: Fri, Jun 04, 2010 19:30 hrs

It’s hard to leave Bangalore’s quirky new One Stop Psy Shop.

There’s no denying it. Malls are the new places of worship and the shopping scene in Bangalore is like that in any other Indian city. Thankfully there are still a few people left who go about things differently. Tucked into a quiet corner on Castle Street is the One Stop Psy Shop.

The psychedelic signboard says it all, but the first thing that hits you inside are the colours — swirls of vivid shades on the walls and ceiling, and products which are hippie rainbow-hued. The store opened two years ago and is run by a friendly young couple, Saher and Tanya, who call themselves the "Psybabas". Over chilled grape juice, they relate how their shop came about.

It all started with flea markets. Saher and Tanya used to make beads, necklaces and other accessories and sell them at clubs and hotels in Bangalore. "The concept of a flea market, like the ones in Goa, was unknown then," says Saher, "It’s only now that they’ve become trendy. Everybody’s holding flea markets at parties."

Tanya recalls the physical labour they both did in the early days: "Everything was [brought] on our backs in huge knapsacks... We lugged it all from place to place, just the two of us. Sometimes we had two markets to set up [our stall] at on the same day."

The hard work paid off. The store is a roomy place littered with quirky, interesting things. Shelves hold batik tops, floral dresses, collared shirts and t-shirts, walls are lined with necklaces, beads, bracelets and anklets, a rack holds handmade shoes, and from the ceiling hang handmade leather bags. At the back is a small workshop. "We used to make everything ourselves but as our customer base grew, we had to have a few tailors and other people helping us out," explains Saher.

The USP is individuality and uniqueness. "We want our things to be different and not mass-produced," says Tanya, "and we like being part of the production process, so to speak. This enables us to know what we sell and to whom."

No amount of ‘market research’ has enabled them to pinpoint a specific clientele. They prefer it that way. "We have school and college kids, government officials, local and foreign tourists, families, kids, musicians, corporate guys… I guess there’s something in here that appeals to everyone," says Saher.

That may be true. Apart from accessories and clothes, there are windchimes, woolly hats and berets, even a line of perfumes made from flower and vegetable oils. The clothes are cut from natural fibre; the eco-friendly accessories are made from animal bone and teeth; and, in a small fridge in one corner are homemade organic jam, pickles, honey, peanut butter and passion-fruit juice.

It’s not the products alone that make the place, it’s the people. Our discussion turns from gene-manipulated aubergines to the effects of television and media, to conspiracy theories and the Illuminati. Before we know it an entire afternoon has passed by. That, perhaps, is a hint at why the shop and its owners are so popular: it’s hard to leave.




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