In the same building as my clinic is a furniture store. This store does a fair to middling amount of business and tends to charge around the higher end. Well, and so what?
So this: the salesmen and the furniture deliverymen who work in the store have a nice little sideline going: they sell furniture of virtually all sorts on the sly, at just about half the official price. They are doing so well at it that pretty much everyone in the building and their neighbours, relatives and friends have been buying from them.
Apparently the owners – who are Marwaris, a community from Rajasthan who are business people first, foremost and always – don’t have a clue.
Now I’m no businessman, but if I were in that position even I’d wonder why so much of my stock keeps mysteriously vanishing.
I can’t – try as I might to celebrate the cheating of capitalist moneybags by underpaid workers, I just cannot – accept that these people don’t know what’s going on. No.
This leaves one with a choice of two possible solutions:
Either the owners know about it and think a certain level of pilferage is acceptable…but knowing the average Indian businessman I think this unlikely in the extreme;
Or, the owners know all about it and are actually orchestrating it.
Let me explain how this works.
You take an item of furniture, say a table, costing (in reality) about, oh, Rs 500. You mark it up to Rs 1000. Nobody will be too eager to buy at that price. Then you get your salespeople to “secretly” offer it on sale at Rs 600 as “stolen property”…and instantly it’s snapped up, the money ultimately coming, of course, to you. You not only end up with a hundred rupee profit on what you’d have got without the whole shenanigan, you also get a lot of free word-of-mouth publicity that will draw in new customers…as is happening.
I leave the reader to decide which of my solutions is the more likely.