The Sarojini Nagar that is usually swarmed by buyers wore a deserted look on Wednesday afternoon. Idle shopkeepers stood huddled in groups discussing how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s crackdown on black money had ruined their day. Few are interested in sales today, the more important subject is how can you exchange Rs 500 and Rs1,000 currency notes.
Some customers who have made it to the market are also are being turned away as shopkeepers say they do not have any change.
“Why the sudden announcement? Why did they not make prior arrangements. I have not sold a single piece since morning. It is already 1pm. By now I usually make at least Rs 4,000,” Ashish complains. “The market is empty today. Our customers are the ones who withdraw cash and come to shop. Since the ATMs are shut, they do not have any money which is why no one is here. The government should shut markets for two days and compensate us vendors,” he added.
Shankar is infuriated. “It is we, the small time vendors, who are suffering. Big showrooms are accepting cards. Where should we go. How will I feed my family today?,” he complains.
Shankar is even ready to accept Rs 500 notes but he does not have any change. He now has to turn away customers. “People who are coming to shop are here to get rid of their Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes which even I cannot accept. Even if I accept them, where do I get the change to return from? I have to turn them away.”
He has now told the customers to either buy clothes worth Rs 500 or Rs 1,000. No article under Rs 500 will be sold “No change will be returned,” he makes it clear.
Some shopkeepers have even come up with innovative ideas to con people. A hawker who sells bangles is announcing: “Give me Rs 500 note and I will give you a pair of bangles in return. Give me Rs 1,000 and I will give you three. Exclusive offer!!!!,” he shouts. When asked why is he trying to con people, he explains, “I am tying to help them. Their notes are now useless. I am in fact taking the useless note in exchange for my bangles,” he laughs. “If I do not fool people, how will I feed my stomach for the next two days,” he adds.