Srinagar, Feb 4: Located in the very heart of J&K’s old Srinagar city, this 200-year-old shop is not just a retail outlet, it is an icon of an honest dedication to purity, trust and customer loyalty that has withstood all the ‘invasions’ by modern day multi-facility departmental stores.
Over 200 years back, a small shop of genuine spices, tea, edible oil and salt was started in ZainaKadal area of Srinagar city close to the graveyard of Kashmir’s sultans including that of ZainulAbbadin better known as ‘Budshah’ (Great King) for his vision of justice across religions and developmental genius.
This small trader’s shop came to be known as ‘Ganwani’s shop’ after the man who first started it. The family legacy has passed from father to son and is now run by the 5th generation of the Ganwanis.
Right since its establishment the shop had become synonymous with all that was truly traditional and pure in spices like tamarind, red chillies, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, salt, mustard oil, green tea and other grocery items.
From far off places like Gurez in Bandipora district, Karnah in Kupwara district, Uri in Baramulla district, distant villages of south Kashmir districts, discerning buyers have been coming to buy their choice grocery goods from this shop that is still trusted by buyers and the local chefs called the ‘Wazas’.
There is no reputed family of these local chefs who would trust spices etc those who go into the making of the multi-course local feast called the ‘Wazwan’ if the spices etc have come from any shop other than the ‘Ganwanis’.
“Well, we are not going to risk our reputation by using doubtful spices and condiments in the Wazwan feast. So the rule of thumb has been to buy these things from the Ganwanis”, said Zahoor Ahmad, 52, who belongs to a reputed family of Wazas living in old Srinagar city.
The loyalty of the Ganwanis and the trust of their buyers has grown manifold over the years.
“You buy grocery items etc from this shop for any amount for marriage, engagement, family reunions and other ceremonies. You are assured of the genuineness of your buy plus the right price.
“A big value addition has been that if you buy goods worth Rs one lakh and after the ceremony you have saved say 25 per cent or more, you can go to the shop and exchange the goods for money without being asked any question”, said Shabir Ahmad, 64, who has been buying things from the Ganwanis since he was a grown up.
GhulamNabiWani, 67 has not moved out of the small shop his ancestors opened.
Surrounded by small tin boxes, bags and containers in the typical old tradition, this magic seller does not take much time to pack your buying list by opening tin boxes, bags and containers that bear no external evidence of what they contain!
His son, Naseer Ahmad Wani has now opened a bigger shop some distance away from his father’s without compromising on the family’s reputation of honesty, purity and genuine price.
GhulamNabiWani, the father spends a part of his time at Naseer’s shop to ensure that the family legacy is transferred as honestly as he inherited it.
When a buyer purchases some spices etc from Naseer’s shop, GhulamNabi takes a while looking at the goods and then nods his head in approval with a smile that depicts his satisfaction.
GhulamNabi said when his father took him to sit at the family shop, he was hardly 15 years old.
“I worked as an apprentice to my father for some years before he trusted my judgement to ensure that the family tradition remained in proper hands”, said GhulamNabi.
Naseer’s shop has a battery of helpers and it is evident that the demands of the market and the growing number of buyers have made the makeover inevitable, but there is the same level of honesty and purity which has been the hallmark of the Ganwanis for 5 generations.
“How can one cheat and betray his family tradition of 200 years?
“For me, more important than the money I make is the number of buyers who leave my shop with the same satisfaction they would during the days of my forefathers”, Naseer Ahmad told IANS while looking at his father, who sits some distance away from the son.