At ‘Vanity Fair’, shopping is a family outing!

Chandigarh: At a time when retail shop owners are feeling the pinch from online shopping, a home-grown fair in Chandigarh’s backyard is making its mark as a commercial success as well as becoming a popular event for a family outing with some shopping thrown in.

As the 24th edition of ‘Vanity Fair’ gets under way next weekend (March 14-15), spring-time shopping, barbeque food, spirits and even things thrown in for kids will be part of the now bi-annual affair.

Held at the lawns of the ‘Whispering Willows’, a country retreat and farmhouse near Chandigarh, ‘Vanity Fair’ has earned itself a reputation of an exclusive event for exhibition of prêt and couture, jewellery, bags, footwear, accessories, paintings, home decor, furniture, garden accessories, carpets and even kids products.

“We started Vanity Fair on a very small scale in 2001. We wanted people to come for an outing at the farm resort and shop as well. In our first show, there were only eight participants but it got a good response,” entrepreneur Priya Jagat, who left her job as a banker to start the exhibition enterprise, told IANS.

From the small beginning where the exhibitors were not even in double figures to the present when the event is held twice every year, and Priya has to pick and choose the number of exhibitors from all over the country who want to be part of ‘Vanity Fair’, the event has certainly grown.

“Most exhibitors are manufacturers themselves. We want to get in and promote those who do not run commercial establishments. I don’t even put up the stall of my own store (Vanity Box). We screen the participants to ensure quality control,” Priya pointed out.

Initially, most exhibitors were individual women. The trend now is of husband-wife or mother-daughter teams who come to exhibit and sell their products at the fair.

Some exhibitors have been coming for 15 years now.

The event, which was an annual event in March initially, was converted to a bi-annual affair (March and October) in 2006.

“Nearly 90 percent of the exhibitors are from outside Punjab and Chandigarh. Over 20 percent of them come from Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Hyderabad,” she said.

“The rest are from all over the country. We try to have a ratio of exhibitors of various products,” she said, adding that bridal stuff and precious jewellery were not allowed to be exhibited.

Some of the unique products at the fair include organic honey collected from different parts of the country.

“Depending on the region and climate, honey procured from natural surroundings tastes quite different,” Abhay Jagat, Priya’s husband, who assists her in the venture, told IANS.

“Food and music are integral part of Vanity Fair along with shopping. Here people come, sit out to eat from the barbeque and kitchen, enjoy music and the atmosphere,” Abhay added.

“It is good fun for the entire family. There is even a kids’ corner to keep children engaged,” he said.