I visited India just like a week back and my Mom offered to take me to the Mantri Mall, India’s newest mall and supposedly one of Asia’s largest, so that I can shop for Indian things. That is not a hard target. I have had challenges shopping for “Made in USA” things when I make trips to India so I can give gifts to people. I mean, most of the stuff sold in America today comes from India or China or Philippines and what have you. It would make no sense to take gifts that were made in India to buy in America so that I can take it back to India and give them to Indians. You see my dilemma here? However, there would be no issue buying Indian things in India. This should be an easy shopping trip I thought.
So we go to the Mantri mall and my Mom said where do you want to shop? I looked around. There was a Tommy Hilfiger store, a Van Heusen outlet, a Sunglass Hut and what have you and I pinched myself to make sure I was not at the Fashion Square mall in Scottsdale, Arizona. Nope, the pinch hurt and I was in Bangalore, India.
“This doesn’t make any sense!” I told my Mom. “I mean, these are American brands. Why would I buy an American brand in India and take it back to America? I can buy Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren in America!”
My Mom looked puzzled. “Son, all these things are made in India. They may be American brands but the merchandize is made in India. Everybody here wears those clothes. They have the best selection!”
Since I appeared to have no option I decided to go and browse through the merchandize in these American stores selling American-branded stuff made by Indians to Indians. However, I was shocked at the price tag. “This could not be!” I exclaimed. “When I do the Indian Rupee to Dollar calculation the Tommy Hilfiger shirt here is priced at 32 dollars! I can get it in America for much less. If I buy at Costco, I am looking at paying less than 20 dollars!”
My brother-in-law, who had accompanied us, screamed aloud. “That is what I have been saying for a long time! The other day I bought high-end Nike shoes and they cost over 200 dollars. My friend in America told me he can get it for far less!”
We chewed the cud on this issue for a while. I ended up not buying anything at the Mantri Mall. However, since I had gone shopping and had identified the stuff I wanted I figured I would make a list and buy them at Costco or Marshall’s or a similar discount outlet when I returned to America. My Mom looked puzzled at my choice.
“This does not make any sense to me!” she said. “Don’t they have to put all these things in cargo containers and ship them at a considerable cost to America? Then people have to unload them, they have to be put on trucks, and taken to these retail outlets you are talking about. Still with all these added costs you can buy them at Costco for as much as 50% less?”
“Ok, my dear son!” she said. “I think I will make a large list of things I need by looking around the Mantri mall. Then I will make a trip to America with two large empty suitcases. Take me to this Costco place of yours and I will shop for all the things that were made in India but sold at a steep discount to Americans. I will then buy them and take them on the plane with me back to India. I will gift them to people and they will think I spent twice as much but they have no idea I got them for 50% less!”