Friday, August 20, 2010

Brigade’s Sapphire to close shop

Brigade’s Sapphire to close shop
Owner decides to increase profits by renting landmark toy shop on Brigade Road to an apparel brand
Praveen Kumar praveen.kumar6@timesgroup.com


Sapphire, the city’s first toy shop and a landmark on Brigade Road, has decided to shut its doors after 38 years in business.
Once frequented by the late Kannada matinee idol Raj Kumar and which commands an impressive clientele such as former chief ministers Ramakrishna Hegde and Dharam Singh and Bollywood celebrities Feroze Khan, Hrithik Roshan and Lucky Ali, the shop will close because the owner has decided to enhance profits by renting out the premises. The spot on Brigade Road will now house an apparel brand.
ELECTRONICS STORE EARLIER
Suhail Yusuf, General Secretary of the Brigade’s Shops and Establishments said the store began as an electronics shop by the same name.
“The electronics shop was started by my father and his friend, Gopinath,” Yusuf told Bangalore Mirror. “Later, this shop was given to Gopinath’s brother, Shivram. In 1972, he sold it lock stock and barrel to Farooq bhai, who ran a book shop at the other end of Brigade Road where Mota Royal Arcade is now located.
“Farooq bhai converted the store into a toy and gift shop with books and other novelties. He and his mother, Zulekha aapa, ran this shop successfully for over three decades. Zulekha died recently, but Farooq continued to run the store alone.”
Early in its avatar as a toy store, stocking goods proved a problem for Farooq, but he overcame the difficulty by sourcing and procuring a variety of toys from Mumbai and other cities. Sapphire’s fame grew quickly and Farooq cashed in by opening three other branches in the city – at Lifestyle-Shoppers Stop junction, in Jayanagar and in Koramangala.
The most popular, however, was the Brigade Road store. Old Bangaloreans still recall Raj Kumar walking into the store with son and present Sandalwood heart-throb Puneet in tow, while Ambarish and his wife Sumalata too were frequent buyers.
Family shopping on Brigade Road became incomplete without a visit to the toy store and the intersection with Church Street soon became known as the Sapphire junction.
Farooq’s decision to close shop, which stems from the belief that he would earn a bigger profit from rent rather than from selling toys, has pained several old-timers.
“It’s hard to imagine this junction without Sapphire,” Suhail said. “For those of us who have run businesses here for the last three or four decades, the disappearance of the store is painful. But, we have no choice. We have seen several landmarks disappearing from Brigade Road and this is yet another one,” Suhail said.
A shopper on Brigade Road said: “With increasing traffic and shrinking of parking space here, people are going to malls and other places where parking for cars is available in plenty. This has had a cascading effect on business here, so old timers are moving out. But, the situation is not dire and Brigade Road continues to be Bangalore’s up-scale shopping street.”
LANDMARKS WE’VE LOST
Some landmarks on and around Brigade Road which have closed or moved in the recent past: » Plaza theatre on MG Road has been acquired by the Bangalore Metro and will now house a Metro station. » India Coffee House, has shifted to Church Street and its old premises is to be demolished. » Blue Moon, the landmark theatre on MG Road, has given way to a Puravankara building. » Macfast Foods on Church Street has given way to Matteo, a coffee shop. » Lakeview, the ice-cream parlour, downed shutters for a while, but is now back with a new look.

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