After being in double-minds for the longest time, we settled on a location that was then being used as a hardware-store-house; full of pipes, nuts & bolts, chemicals and things I had never seen before in my life!
When it’s shutter went up for the first time, dust was the least of our concerns for nothing except pipe-ends, stacked cans and ceiling-high piles of cartons were visible next to the entrance of an otherwise dark, dingy cul-de-sac space. It smelled weird too, like perhaps a cocktail of chemicals would.
Armed with our phone torches, we followed the owner over rattling-tattling pipes, into darkness. But couldn’t make it to the end because after a point, balancing on plastic of varied dimensions and strength, that threatened to slip under our weight became impossible.
Other than that, this location mostly met every other must-have criterion on our list. Though the owner shared its dimensions, Liliput and I were left to imagine how the place would look without all its contents and whether it gave the vibe we wanted FOTS to have…
Confession cum Disclaimer: Every step in the journey of becoming an entrepreneur seemed like it was the toughest- from deciding to take a plunge to putting ideas into execution to actually signing legal documents. I had fancied that at least the purchasing bit would if not be therapeutic, be tad enjoyable; but even that ended up being an exercise. Everything had to be seen through the lenses of forecast, necessity, volume, use and within the shadows of the big bully- Budget.
Once the location was finalized, we both agreed on a list of bare-essentials for FOTS’s opening that absolutely couldn’t be done without. (Please read between lines; it was after many discussions, debates and fights that we got there :D)
Next on our (mostly my) agenda was to find the best stuff at least cost (thrifty Indians, ya sure!) and I was ready to measure the length and breadth of Delhi- NCR for that (or is penny-wise, pound-foolish more appropriate? :P). Google was back to our rescue and helped in location and price comparisons but things like furniture customization or mantle pieces and decoration items warranted visits.
God knows that other than the fact that we both wanted FOTS to be warm and inviting, both Liliput and I were equally clueless about what would ensure that. And to remedy that we made some offline trips to nearby joints- to check out things like their décor, lighting, menu, prices and things one doesn’t pay heed to on an otherwise casual outing.
We started the treasure hunt with a visit to a hep roadside flea market which is locally called the gypsy market. I call it hep because a.) that was the cool word for fashionistas when I grew up and b.) ‘coz if one has the eye and patience to look for the good-stuff; one usually gets it there. While I went with a mindset of let’s see and understand what’s in the market, Liliput was ready for a head-on!
The first purchase we made was a seven-foot long and three feet wide carved, wooden frame. I remember looking at Liliput just then, we’re really going ahead with this right? Coz it won’t fit anywhere in the house!
And he returned a look of, let’s get the ball rolling honey!
We allocated each day of every weekend (and some weekday-evenings) to markets and stores, armed with a scribble-pad and a ball point pen. Our questions and bargain-tactics got better with time and by the end of the entire exercise our list got crisper and less vague. Though our discussions still pendulumed between heated and more heated.
The guest room which was once assembled with love for family and friends had turned into a dumping ground. Every purchase made from art and craft supply to boxes full of colors and paints, games, kitchenware etc. was unceremoniously piled on top of each other (with the best intentions of course).
Time was running out, December was upon us and we still had to finalize on things like zeroing down on the electrical fittings, furniture and a reliable person who would put it all together for us.
We zeroed down on the location by mid-December and signed on the dotted line. The owner promised that its premises would be cleared before the stated effective date of contract-execution. The funny thing was that even now, when we took the carpenter or the electrician inside FOTS, it was over and between heaps and walls of pipes and fixtures. They’d come with measuring tapes and take approximate measurements in the air for calculations and discussions.
Each detailing was like a mini-project for us, like for example the shop-front. Both Liliput and I wanted different things, while he wanted a full glass look, contemporary and chic, I wanted the old-school wood to run it’s charm. We spoke to different shop owners, to gauge their experiences with wooden frames, metal hinges and glass doors.
Suddenly, every time I drove or co-drove through busy market places, different kinds of shop fronts and not the MEGA SALE sign boards captured my attention.
And I couldn’t help but think whether even they had given so much thought to this as we were?