It doesn’t matter what time of the day you walk into Boardriders at Phoenix Market City, Kurla — You’ll always have to tread carefully. The store, which specialises in skateboards, is constantly filled with children and young men whizzing up and down the 3x6m skating ramp, trying out their daredevil skills. “It’s like a rock concert on the weekends,” says skateboard expert Nikhil Bhosale, Boardriders’ in-house trainer. “It gets really hectic. Handling children and teaching them skateboarding can be quite physically demanding. There are kids who come around noon and stay till 8 at night.”
Boardriders is the latest of many stores in the city that aims to offer their young customers much more than racks filled with products. They add on something else — a hangout zone. Not interested in buying their wares? At stores like these, there’s no nosy attendant giving you meaningful looks.
This isn’t new. Stores like Landmark and Hamleys have always been serious endorsers of the ‘stay as long as you please’ policy, inviting bookworms and gamers to spend hours at leisure. Landmark’s marketing manager, Ligin Thomas, says, “What differentiates a bookstore from a website is the joy of stumbling upon a great book. And we don’t want to change that.” Lately, Landmark has been brimming with gaming enthusiasts, who take their place by the Wii, Xbox and PlayStation consoles, never tiring of the sport at hand."You’ll find people running, playing tennis or simply watching. It’s great to see so much activity. Usually people leave after an hour. If they don’t, we don’t mind. Rather other gamers go ahead and ask for their turn," says Thomas, whose store is currently hosting a Summer Carnival for youngsters.
But a good footfall may not always translate to great sales. In fact, this format also attracts many freeloaders. So how do they filter actual shoppers from the rest? “We don’t,” says Bhosale. “As long as the people coming are enthusiastic about the sport and walk out smiling, we are happy.”
He adds, “From my experience, browsers come for fun, but definitely take back something after watching all of it.” But Elvis Dias of Bandra bookstore Title Waves has a different point of view. “If we find people coming often and reading books without buying any, we politely tell him that it’s not a library,” he says.
Dias, however, does plan to offer a dose of entertainment soon. “In May, we’ll start Sunday jazz concerts. We also plan to start LP music listening sessions,” he says. If the thrill of unlimited hours on the wheels wasn’t enough, Boardriders has other ways to ride to popularity. “Our official launch is on May 6. We’ll be inviting 7-8 rock bands to perform. The store will also have a bar, so if parents are bored, they can head there,” says Bhosale.
Fun for free
Pick your favourite boardgame, surf the net or spend time playing with a friendly Rottweiler at Fellas, the health eatery in Khar From Malad to Worli, get a free foot massage at Osin Pods in city malls Get a makeup session at Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel, every Monday no (free) entry When Bandra’s Just Around The Corner shut to make way for its new avatar, Eat Around The Corner, in February last year, many patrons were riled with their newly-introduced cover charge. Collegegoers and other regulars were forced to look for another hangout central thanks to this change.