March 14: Unknown to most people in Delhi, there has been a wine and liquor store in the Star City Mall in Mayur Vihar Delhi since 2015, which has an independent section where only women or couples are allowed inside to shop for their complete requirement of wine and spirits in a relaxed atmosphere, writes Subhash Arora who visited the store with the strange name of Red Electric Store
If you go to the Star City Mall, in Mayur Place, behind the adjacent Galleria Mall in Mayur Vihar phase I, you will face a liquor shop as you enter. Ask them where the Red Electric wine shop is located and you might draw a blank. However, if you tell them it is a wine shop only for ladies, you are directly instantly to the store almost behind this store. It is actually like any liquor shop in a Mall but has a partition and the clearly visible portion has been reserved only for women or couples.
I meet the store manager Umesh Saxena who looks after the whole store with a small passage connecting both the generic shop and the portion reserved for women with a separate entry. A guard tries to stop me as I enter as I am alone until Saxena spots me. A woman customer and another couple are being looked after by a young woman female sales attendant who I find out later, is Priyanka Rana who has been there for 4 months and has some basic knowledge of wines.
The wines are of course, stored in the air-conditioned environs of the Mall and you can see the store from a distance inside, thanks to the big glass windows and attractive display with one full side full of wines. Wines are quaffable and mostly entry to mid- level wines- emphasis is on Indian wines with Sula, Fratelli and Grover ruling the roost. There is a small section of imported wines generally under Rs. 2000 a bottle-in fact the most expensive bottle is a Barolo by Bosio, distributed by High Spirits. Cheapest wine is a Fratelli Kyra costing Rs. 350.
There are a range of half bottles and airline size (187 mL) bottles in the Indian section. Sula label is available in 187 mL label at Rs. 210. However, the popular-with-masses Noi sparkling wine costing Rs. 950 and a darling with women and a good condiment with spicy Indian food, are out-of-stock, as are the highly popular TILT canned wines from Fratelli; they do not stock Dia cans from Sula.
Umesh has been with the store since 2015 and says there are regular women customers as they feel very safe and comfortable in the store. The name of the Store is rather strange but perhaps the owners Prashant Arora and Rohit Arora got the license under Red Electric. But, if you ask anyone in the two Malls about the ‘ladies only’ store, you would be directed automatically to the store.
The entry norms are strictly enforced and even the owners do not visit this section to maintain the sanctity. Women who come to buy are generally younger lot-most don’t know much about wine and look for wines around Rs. 500-600 while some do know a fair amount. The wines under Rs. 1000 are most popular.
Saxena says there has been more than 100% increase in sales in wine since he joined though the women here also buy vodka and beer generally as other alcoholic beverages. To my question about haggling for discounts- a hobby for most women, he smiles and says, ‘yes, they do try sometimes but stop insisting when we tell them the rates are fixed by the Delhi government and we are forbidden to offer any discount.’
Women feel very safe and secure in the store, especially as they are attended to by the helpful Priyanka who says about 2/3rd of the sales are red wines. Even the Nashik Port wine from Sula costing a staggering Rs. 550 is popular with women shoppers.
The store is open 10-10*7 except public holidays and dry days which are expected to come down in the forthcoming policy of Delhi excise. The store has appx. 500 Sq Ft space about 40% of which is exclusively for ladies and couples. A big sofa and the clean uncluttered store makes them feel relaxed and comfortable, says Priyanka.
What about curious men who insist on coming inside seeing only women? ‘We strictly do not allow them unless they are accompanied by a woman customer,’ insists Umesh. They are 3 liquor stores in Star Malls and 13 in The Galleria. With the proximity to the UP border where liquor is much more expensive, this cluster of 16 stores is akin to what Gurgaon does to the Delhi shoppers. There are regular customers here from Noida and Ghaziabad and even from Agra.
The International Women’s Day last week inspired me to visit the store. I believe the department stores are the best places for women to buy wine and beer without feeling conscious (unfortunately, not allowed right now but hopefully, the new policy next month will be more sensible and will allow) but with more and more liberated women choosing to add vodka, gin and even whisky-especially the single malts to their Drinks portfolio, such ‘ladies special’ stores are a welcome part of the Delhi Modern Retail scene.
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