The organisation functions by collecting clothes and toys from people across the country and sorting them based on quality.

This Chennai store offers a shopping mall experience for the poorFacebook/ Thuli
Features Human Interest Sunday, April 01, 2018 - 12:11

Shopping at a mall is usually a sign of privilege; we get to choose from a wide variety of things. But for many, this may not be possible. They end up getting what they are given, most times as charity. It was precisely this practice that the founders of Thuli wanted to change.

Started on February 18 by three entrepreneurs - Shivaji Prabhakar, Jeybala and Ajith Kumar - Thuli is a store that offers the “shopping mall” experience for those who come from the lesser privileged sections of society.

Ajith Kumar, its co-founder, says that they wanted to bridge the divide in the society. “We want them to shop with dignity. Not just pick up something that has been offered in charity.”

True to their idea, the store at Adyar has fine interiors and racks of neatly folded clothes, toys and accessories. The organisation functions by collecting these items from people across the country and sorting them based on quality. Those that they identify as first quality are laundered and are then hung up at the store. The clothes and other items that fall under the second category are then given to orphanages and other homes.

The organisation has partnered with Big Laundry and Parveen Travels who have agreed to offer their services for free. “We are also getting support from many others. Aloft Chennai has agreed to come on board with us for laundry,” says Ajith.

In just 45 days, the store has had over 1000 beneficiaries. So how do they reach out to the right people? “We’ve got these coupons priced at Rs 1000/1500 that we distribute to NGOs and select networks that work with less privileged communities. We also price the clothes at minimal rates. For instance, we’ve got sarees prices at Rs 100, T-shirts at Rs 50 and so on.”

Thuli also encourages people to walk in with their families so they can enjoy the experience better. Ajith shares that the volunteers at Thuli help educate those who walk in on how to maintain the clothes they buy. “We also insist on the importance of education to the children who come in,” adds Ajith.

Thuli has been creating a directory of people walking in and Ajith shares their plan to become an aggregator for various NGOs. “The idea is to improve the value of living for people in society. By matching needs and availability, we’ll be able to create a better space.”

The store also offers sanitary napkins for every woman who walks in. “We give them three packs of branded napkins and a coupon which they can redeem three months later for three more packs. We make sure the beneficiary is provided for the next one year,” says Ajith. 

Thuli's store is located at Gokul Arcade on Sardar Patel Road in Adyar, Chennai. For more details on what Thuli does, visit their Facebook page or call 638036662.

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