For most of us, Sundays are spent relaxing, watching films and spending time with friends and family. However, for Mohammad Hanif, it’s the most tiring day of the week as he busies himself with selling beanbags at the Defence Sunday Bazaar in Karachi.
His foray into this business wasn’t a result of a personal choice but was due to misfortune. Having worked as a senior employee in a local company, Hanif, after years of stable employment, suddenly found himself jobless. “The company I was working for lost its business as the market was inundated with Chinese products being sold at cheaper prices. The company not only lost its local clients, it also saw a drastic dip in their exports. Therefore, the business suffered a lot and I was left jobless,” says Hanif.
So it was this time of desperation and hardship that pushed Hanif to set up his beanbag business about seven years back. With just Rs50,000 in hand and some assistance from a woman whose name he declines to reveal, Hanif forayed into the business of producing and selling beanbags.
Initially, the business did well, with people from other cities (for instance, Islamabad) coming to his home-based shop to buy beanbags, which can be placed in the living area of a house. However, over the years, due to mounting recession, inflation and political unrest, the business, suffered and Hanif lost a major chunk of his customer base. “Not many people come to my shop. Just a handful of customers who have funky ideas for their bedroom or living room come to my shop to buy these beanbags,” he adds, pointing to his stock of beanbangs which are in a variety of colours ranging from browns, blacks, blues and reds.
On normal days, he ends up selling a maximum of three beanbags, each costing Rs3,500. However, the past four Sundays have been very unkind as he waited at the shop from dawn to dusk, hoping to catch the attention of a potential customer but to his dismay, he went home without having sold a single piece. “I have remained penniless for the past four Sundays. I hope I’m a little luckier today and a buyer turns up by evening,” he adds with a smile.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 1st, 2012.