Regional Brand

Classic yet contemporary

The Bombay Store, after decades of snail-paced growth, wants to get on the fast track

Sanjit Kundu

How would you like a snazzy Shammi Kapoor tie to spice up your suit? Or a North-East inspired design on your flip-flops? If you’re not a fan of the far-out, how about just some soothing Darjeeling tea? Home to the quirky and the classic, The Bombay Store, the 106 year-old home décor-and-gifting retailer, has an eclectic range — from furnishings, artefacts, wellness products to fashion accessories and stationery. 

The shop’s windows are a head-turner, and they bring in intrigued passers-by and regulars alike. Shekhar Mani and James Lingwood, Los Angeles-based filmmakers, stop by at The Bombay Store each time they visit Mumbai. “I’m always asked ‘where did you buy that?’ by my friends back home,” says Lingwood as he searches for some silk cushion covers.  

The Bombay Store’s history goes back to 1906 when, during the peak of the Swadeshi Movement, its chief architect Bal Gangadhar Tilak and businessman Munmohandas Ramji, opened a co-operative store to sell khadi, called the Bombay Swadeshi Store. Till the mid-’90s, the store remained an old-worldly place to buy khadi, handloom and handicrafts.

The pace picked up after the Bhupen Dalal family, which owed much of its wealth to stockbroking, invested ₹75 lakh in 1991. In 1995, Asim Dalal, the second son of Bhupen Dalal, rechristened the retailer to make it relevant to the times. From just one store in Mumbai, they had two more in Pune and Bengaluru respectively by 1997. 

Things warmed up in 2001 when competition, in the form of multi-brand retailers like Lifestyle and Shopper’s Stop, began expanding owing to their deep pockets. “Not being a part of a large group was a big limitation as we could not afford to make large investm

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