India Bazaar , which closes this week, has been an asset to our family and Downtown. My name is Pooja Garg, one of the many proud grandchildren of Magan and Meera Agrawal, who own the 413 Nicollet Mall store.
India Bazaar means a lot to me, as it really opened a huge window of opportunity. It has taught me great entrepreneurship skills, inspired my style of artwork - and added great props to my dance performance.
India Bazaar has also taught me to value my family more; many people get to see their grandparents twice or trice a year, but I have been able to see my grandpa on a daily basis ever since I started my college career at the University of Minnesota.
I just have to jump on a Route 16 or 50 bus to get directly to Nicollet Mall. It is like a second home to me. I can depend on my family for everything - help in an emergency or to just have a great conversation. No matter what, I know my grandpa will be at the store because he would not want to be anywhere else. He is 75 years old and still going strong.
He is not into business for business, but doing something he enjoys, which is being around people and repairing things. Even without a graduate degree, he has great expertise in craftsmanship. You can bring anything to him and if it is not useful, he will make it usable. If you ask him for ideas on how to design something, he will give you his opinion, always being so polite in saying "beti" (daughter) and trying to find a solution to your problem.
I am a typical Indian girl that was born and brought up in America but chose to retain and incorporate my Indian culture in whatever I chose to do. The statues, tapestries and pictures in the store inspire a lot of my art pieces.
I always ask my grandpa how I can make something look better or more " Indianized." I am also interested in designing jewelry, so I will bring a piece to him and ask him how I can add something to it or change it to fit a customer's needs.
They helped me by providing me jewelry and accessories necessary for the dances I perform and lend items to corporations such as American Express to display at their annual diversity workshop. India Bazaar definitely adds cultural diversity to the community and disperses knowledge all over the Twin Cities.
Many people have asked my aunt why we are closing the store (declining sales) and if we'll be back. I can see the sadness on their faces; they have been buying from us for many years and do not want to see it end.
I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the whole team of India Bazaar and the contributions they have made to the Twin Cities area. Thank you, India Bazaar, and a big thanks to Baba for providing the service he did for the past 35 years.
Pooja Garg is a student at the University of Minnesota. She has launched her own business called Indian Treasures & Delights.