"Marketing" in Koraput

Gina writes:

Note: In Koraput, the verb used to indicate shopping of any sort is "marketing"...I laugh to myself when I hear this since both my BA and MBA are in marketing!

Marketing in Koraput (or anywhere in India, for that matter) is an interesting experience.

  • Each store only sells certain things, some of which are obvious at first glance, some of which aren't. For instance, we've learned the place to buy mushrooms year-round is not the vegetable market, but the main milk-seller.
  • Most of the stores have a counter separating the customers from the goods, so you have to know what you're looking for or you can point, but it's hard to browse.
  • A lot of the stores sell the same basic items (e.g. rice, flour, sugar), but the quality, specifically the likelihood of bugs, differs between them, so you have to get used to which stores have decent stock.
  • At a lot of stores, you'll just be spending 50 rupees (1 USD) or less and the shop owners sometimes don't have or won't give change. So you have to plan ahead and try to use largers bills when you can, to increase your stock of small bills and coins.
  • Almost all of the shops close during the afternoon every day from about 2-5. This is there lunch break, but can be frustrating.

Here are pictures of some of the shops that we frequent. Notice the HUGE numbers of signs!

This is Santosh's shop, one of our favorites for vegetables.

Here's the main milk seller. The owner likes to chat Corey's ear off, so we always have to plan a few extra minutes here. We don't even know his name, we just call him Omfed Guy (Omfed is the name of the milk brand).

At Rolex Xerox, we don't buy physical products, but we buy internet time. This is where many of our Sunday evenings have been spent, squished in a little closet, using the high-speed Internet to Skype with our families and friends.

This store doesn't look like much, but tends to have a lot of things that similar stores don't. The owner is really friendly and loves when I ask for things in Oriya.

Here is the tiny shop right outside our front gate. Literally about 20 feet away, this shop has gotten us out of a bind more than a few times by selling basics like eggs, potatoes, laundry detergent, and chilis.

This is our electrician. Take anything to him and he'll fix it!

Here's the craft store! I really never thought there'd be a place like this in Koraput. The shop owner lets me slip behind the counter and browse to my crafty heart's content!

There are two stores that I don't have photos of. One is what we call "the department store" which just means that it's slightly bigger and offers a little more choice on brands and sizes of products. The other is "Amar's" where we get special goods like toilet paper and peanut butter and tuna. We buy cereal and soda by the case from him, to decrease the load on the 1-mile walk back to our house!

The trek to so many different stores to buy basic groceries and household needs can be frustrating, but the personal relationships that we've developed with the shopkeepers is something that I'll really miss when we return to the U.S.