At your convenience – 24/7

With Thimphu’s ever-growing affinity to night life, people moonlighting under this umbrella find a growing need for convenience stores like the 24/7

When you stand watch as security personnel out of duty or when you have to work the late hours and early mornings out of necessity or just out of sheer lust for outings and fun-filled panorama, a place that stands at your disposal to cater to whatever needs arises in that hour of the night or day is nothing short of deliverance.

Perhaps it is for this reason that as the last shop in the capital that customers count upon to remain open at anytime from morning to night and round the clock during daytime, the 24/7 convenience store is favorites for these customers of morning, noon and night.

Convenience stores, as the name says it are stores with extended opening hours situated in a convenient location, stocking a range of household goods and groceries available under one sweep of the customers’ eyes.

The said store here, the 24/7 is a favorite especially among the people and groups who have to stick to the irregular hours due to their professions, duties or just out of nightly or early morning outings.

The 24/7 convenience store receives many such customers who operate in the wee hours of the night or from early in the morning.

A list of people that visit the store are G4S security guards, late night travelers that move in or out from the capital, patient attendants, police personnel and the party-goers.

Most of them rated the shop as very ‘essential’ in the feedback forms that the convenience store usually surveys.

“It is really helpful for us when we come back from our security duties and also for some joggers. We at least need something to keep us going after a tiresome night in the morning,” said 38-years old G4S guard, Sonam Dorji.

A tourist from Thailand, Rungjung left a feedback for the convenience store that read, ‘very very important to have such shops for tourists as well as late night commuters. We have convenience store called 7/11’.

“One night I came out looking for phone voucher from the Hongkong Market and every shop is closed. I kept walking, looking for an open shop and that’s when I finally discovered this shop,” said Rinchen Dorji a college student. He said such type of stores must have chains around the town as well as other pockets of our country.

“Like Mumbai that has earned the sobriquet ‘city that never sleeps’ Bhutan, mainly the capital has become something like this. It is about time that such stores come up,” said a 32-year old corporate worker. He added that monopoly is not good but having a convenience store is very ‘necessary’.

A partygoer who echoed the sentiments said that most partygoers love to go out to places and the one common problem they all face is knocking at shop doors at an hour that puts both sides on confrontational grounds.

“But not 24/7,” a regular customer Pema D said. “This 24/7 store keeps us ‘toasty warm’ whatever the time be.”

Other problems that bug the customer are the basic medicines. “There is no medicine like Paracetamol, Digene and condoms,” said Ugyen a party enthusiast and a corporate employee.

“The government should encourage such stores because monopoly will never make my services better and seeing people come here at all times- it ascertains me that the shop really does benefit the community at large,” said the owner of the only convenience store in the capital as well as the whole country, 34-years old Kinley Tenzin. Talking of medicines and many other products, he said “license is not issued for other products and to sell medicines one needs to have a permit’.

Kinley Tenzin said the government should make it a rule that any such shops that may come in the future should not be allowed to sell alcohol as it may cause riots at night and the shops must sell what is the basic needs of human beings.

Trade officials confirmed that around 30-40 proposals for convenience store to run both night and day are pending with the authority though it may take time to consider it all.

Puran Gurung

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