ISLAMABAD: Six floors might sound like a lot, but this is how much space it takes for the Friends Home Store to keep its promise of offering you everything you need to furnish your home.
The Friends Corporation is no new name to the twin cities, with the store having opened as an electronics outlet in 1974. It bills itself as the first store in the country to have every home item — from furniture and home theatre accessories to kitchenware — all under one roof.
The store is spacious with very streamlined displays. Each floor contains items in a systematic order beginning from the basement that displays the kitchenware.
Visitors at the store experience the walking tour of home appliances, flat panel TVs, sound systems, bedrooms, dining tables with tableware, lounges, kids furniture with toys and a wide range of fabrics.
Although many would argue that large department stores and warehouse stores offer the same “everything under one roof deal”, the owner, Umar Akbar, begs to differ. “We are not a grocery store, rather we offer everything one would need to furnish a home, including necessities and luxuries.”
Sanitary ware is perhaps the only category of goods that is not available at the store.
Akbar also explained why he chose the twin cities to open the outlet instead of bigger markets such as Lahore or Karachi. “We’ve been catering to the twin cities for 38 years, this is where we started and are well known, plus our store is located in between the twin cities so it is convenient for people in both Islamabad and Rawalpindi.”
However, those who had come from Islamabad did feel the slight inconvenience of the distance.
“To purchase expensive items one wants to take time, hence a lot of time is spent at the store. Coming all the way here itself takes about 30 minutes,” said Jaffer, a shopper who had come to buy an LCD TV.
The emphasis on quality is evident from the first glimpse, with furniture coming from both local and foreign suppliers. “People who prefer solid wooden furniture will be able to purchase local-made furniture, and for those more interested in modern, edgy designs, our imported range is the way to go,” said Akbar.
Paintings to adorn your wall, toys for children and even trendy wallpapers are also available, however all these fancy items might be a little heavy on ones pocket, which the owner defends by pointing out that the store “mostly caters to the upper-middle and upper-class”. Some decorative items, however, are priced as low as Rs500.
While parking may be a hassle on Muree Road, the store can be reached relatively easily from Islamabad via the 9th Avenue.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 18th, 2012.
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