If you live in Banjara Hills, you will most likely be indifferent to the existence of Magna, the large (though strangely discreet) retail store that has sprung to life on the relatively quieter portion of Road Number 12. It is simply one more retail spot, an addition to the list of shopping centers in the vicinity, including City Center Mall
on Road No. 1 and Hyderabad Central
But Magna is flourishing - much like its competition and the blooms for sale at the florist's at its doorstep - thanks to the patronage it is receiving from less affluent Hyderabadis, those who do not live in the neighbourhood. The reason for this: Magna is quality for money. Couple that with its motto, "something for everyone", and you notice a winning marketing strategy hard at work here.
One look at the directory of this 6-storey complex (though the 6th floor, which will comprise fine dining restaurants, is still not operational) and you know you will not be returning home sans carry-bags. It seems you do not need to go looking for a purchase here - rather, the purchase will find you.
Take the spotless marble stairs, or the equally clean elevator - lazy, lazy - to the first floor, one of the floors more frequented by women. On the right lies the 'Grocery And Daily Needs' section, while on the left is the 'Fruits, Vegetables, Sweets, Fresh Meats, Frozen Food, Dairy Products' department, complete with a small but reasonably stocked pharmacy (a big convenience).
The products are branded, in variety and neatly lined-up, which makes shopping a pleasure. Except in the fruits and vegetables aisle - the tubs contain green, crisp produce, but you have to duck several nudging elbows of women trying to get to the limited fare before you do. Fresh @, the fruits and vegetables retailer, has a branch on the same road - the stocks are bigger there, though the quality differs from day-to-day.
Of course, you can skip the first floor, and those hard elbows, altogether by heading to any of the floors above instead. The second floor is divided into two sections as well - the format runs throughout Magna, in fact - 'Kids Wear, Girls, Boys, Infants, Toys' on the left and 'Home Appliances, Audio Systems, Mobiles, Home Theater Systems' on the right.
The former is burgeoning with lesser known brands of children's wear that, oddly enough, seems to be at odds with Magna's policy of modest pricing; Rs. 300 for a no-frills baby frock seems a tad much. On the other hand, the electronics wing is, by far, the most expensive among all sections at Magna. Brands like Murphy Richards, Black and Decker, LG et al fill up the floor space. It costs about Rs. 900 to buy a hair-dryer here. That would explain their dearth of customers. Or maybe the lack of customers is due to bad sales service - the sales lady gave us a, er, shock when she rudely refused to let a customer take away company pamphlets illustrating their goods.
Moving on, the third and fourth floors are where, we are guessing, Magna makes its killing - the third floor comprises 'Women's Wear, Jewellery, Cosmetics, Saris' and 'Crockery, Cutlery, Home Furnishings, Home Decor, Small Appliances'. With curtains priced at Rs. 200 and below, and plastic bottles at Rs. 20, the limited stock here can giveBig Bazaar
a run for its money, though Big Bazaar wins hands-down when it comes to sheer quantity.
On the fourth floor, you will find relatively inexpensive and good quality stationery, a small collection of books, branded footwear, leather and luggage accessories (Samsonite is sold here), some branded watches and limited supplies of some magazines, music and DVDs etc. The right hand side of the floor is occupied by 'Men's Wear'.
If you are not interested in any of the above, Magna has a food court too, where you can unwind while the rest of the family shops. The Grub Hub takes up the entire fifth floor. On the left is the multi-cuisine section, where reasonably priced food is freshly prepared and promptly demolished by customers. Talimpoo makes South Indian, Chaat Shaala specializes in tangy Indian snacks, Ming Ling is the 'Oriental Express' while at Chownk you can sample delicious North-Indian fare.
The same flavors extend to the right section, which is famous for its buffet lunches, served daily for Rs. 155 per head plus taxes, and its dinner buffets, priced at Rs. 199 per head plus taxes, on weekends. Grub Hub is a better deal when compared with the food court of Hyderabad Central mall. The same applies to Magna on the whole, in fact. This shopping center may well be more satisfying for the customer looking for quality and affordability, the latter so evasive in the posh Banjara Hills.