Tucked in one side of Church Street is Blossom- a bookstore that bibliophiles in Bengaluru are too familiar with.
Blossom Book House, better known as Blossom, is a book store in the real sense of the word. Unlike a big chain-store, Blossom does not boast of huge spaces, with tidy stacked rows of books.
But what it lacks in neatness perhaps, it makes up for in character.
Blossom has a unique old school charm. The air in the store has the overwhelming smell of the thousands of books it is home to, the books that sit patiently waiting to be read.
Those who have been to the book store might agree that the sight is indeed a tempting one. A book lover’s haven, there are books not just on the shelves, but they are also stacked in every possible nook and corner of the store.
In case one cannot find what they are looking for in the vast sea of books, the staff is always ready to help.
Mayi Gowda, the owner of the store, is an unassuming man. The smile he dons along with his polite demeanour makes it easy to understand why his customers like him and his store, and why they keep returning.
Mayi Gowda, the owner of Blossom believes in creating a bond with his customers.
Set up in 2002, Blossom has an interesting history that not many may know of.
Gowda, who hails from a village in Mysuru, had come to Bengaluru to pursue higher education. His family was not a well-off one, and Gowda had to take up a night job along with getting enrolled in a day college.
It was during this period that Gowda happened to notice book vendors selling books on the pavements and the decent business they did.
Since his job and work wasn’t working out together, he quit both and started selling second hand books on the road side near Mayo Hall.
Once business picked up, Gowda finished a course in engineering and even got a job in GE.
“I didn’t like what I was doing there. I worked there for hardly 15-20 days after which I quit,” says Mayi Gowda speaking to The News Minute.
And that is when Blossom was born.
A book lover himself, Gowda had initially opened Blossom in another location.
( Blossom has a footfall of around 150 during weekdays and around 300 in the weekend. )
“The earlier store was so small that there was very less space for too many people to stand together. The staff used to come out of the store so that customers could browse easily and more comfortably,” says Gowda recounting those days.
Talking about the popularity his store has garnered in more than a decade of its existence, Gowda says “We are unique in a sense because we sell both new and used books. We even buy used books from customers”. The competitive pricing, including heavy discounts, is also one reason that draws book-lovers to his store, he states.
"The books we have can range anywhere between Rs 50 to Rs 15,000. We have a collection of antique books that are very expensive", he adds.
County of Kent, 1823 publication; one of the most expensive books in the store.
An online Blossom store was also launched in 2006, but the direct sales from the store are much higher that its online counterpart. The reason, Gowda asserts, could be that buying books online is relatively more expensive because of the courier charges that get added to the price of the book.
Blossom has a variety of books on various genres in English and Kannada. Comic is one of the most popular sections in the store.
“Classics are the regular bestsellers here,” he states. When asked about Chetan Bhagat books, which is considered to be a top seller everywhere, Gowda says that “people do buy his books, but it is not that popular here”.
When asked whether reading habits over the years have changed, or rather decreased, Gowda said there have been no such changes.
Does Gowda feel the pressure of competition with several giant book organisations like having a significant presence in the market?
“No really. These chain-stores, some of which I know are closing down, have very less personal interaction with customers like we have here. That is another reason I think we are doing well,” he says.
There are no plans of expansion for Gowda as of now. Space, however, he knows is an issue as even this 4,000 sq ft store seems to fall small for the sheer number of books they have.
Jaishankar, a regular customer at Blossom.
Jaishankar has been a regular customer at Blossom ever since its inception. Though he resides in Raja Rajeshwari Nagar, he says “coming to Blossom is never a problem for me”.
“It is a wonderful place and Mayi is a very good man. I love the atmosphere here. I like the variety of books they have,” he says adding that he comes to the store at least twice every week.
This piece was first published on The News Minute on December 26, 2014.