The scene gives a feeling of enormity – a huge wholesale market with hundreds of small shops, countless sellers and buyers negotiating the best deals possible, and countless lots of clothes no matter which direction you turn . Welcome to Shahjadpur Fabric Market in Sirajganj!
On Sundays and Wednesdays, when the market is held next to Rabindranath Tagore’s famous “Kachari Bari”, it is always packed.
Merchants from across the Indian borders come here in large numbers and join hundreds of local traders in their quest to source the finest fabrics. It is the hustle and bustle that dominates the market all the time.
Back then, market days in Shahjadpur were Mondays and Wednesdays. But with the expansion of the clothing market, two separate days have been set exclusively for the sale and purchase of clothing and fabrics.
Traders start preparing for market days from Saturday and Tuesday evenings before the market comes into full swing at noon on market days.
According to vendors, goods worth hundreds of crores of taka are sold during market days.
Wholesale buyers from all over the country, known as “Paikar” in the local lingo, come to buy clothes and fabrics at wholesale prices. Customers also come from outside the country. About 30-40% of the clothes in this market are purchased by Indian wholesalers.
Sirajul Islam, owner of Sonali Saree House, has been dealing with Indian wholesalers for eight years.
“Indian wholesalers are the biggest buyers in my shop, and there was a time when traders from Pakistan also came,” he told The Business Standard.
Across the country, most traders come from Chattogram, he added.
Sirajul also said that most transactions are now done either online or through mobile financial services, whereas previously all transactions were done in cash.
Most of the saree and lungi shops in the market have fixed buyers. Sellers say it takes years to establish such a buyer-seller bond.
Gouri Basak, an Indian wholesaler, said he goes to Shahjadpur market almost every month to buy sarees at wholesale prices. He has a saree shop named Gaur and Sons in East Burdwan of West Bengal.
“Handwoven saree is also produced in India. The quality is also quite good but the price is high. In comparison, handwoven fabric is available in Bangladeshi markets at a much lower price. is why we come here,” he said. .
Like Gouri Basak, Chittaranjan Basak, Sukumar Ghosh and Kashi Nandi are also regular visitors to the fabric and cloth markets of Bangladesh. In Shahjadpur market they also have stationary shops, from where they always shop.
A wholesaler from Chattogram said there was a huge demand for Saree and lungi made in Shahjadpur in the port city.
“We buy clothes and mark them in our stores and sell them at retail price,” he said.
Shahjadpur Haat (Marker) Cloth Market is the largest cloth and cloth market in the country. Then there is Ataikula Haat in Pabna, Sohagpur Haat in Sirajganj, Enayetpur Haat and Korotia of Tangail which are also famous. However, compared to these markets, the specialty of Shahjadpur market is that they have the best processed fabrics.
The gray fabric is the fabric that has just been finished from a loom. Such clothes are not suitable for wearing. The disadvantage of this fabric is that it must be ironed before being marketed. Hence, foreign buyers are more interested in purchasing ready-made fabrics and garments, and Shahjadpur fabric market is famous for its ready-made fabrics.
However, gray cloth sells more in the other two major markets of Sirajganj – Sohagpur and Enayetpur markets. Many wholesalers source gray fabric from Shahjadpur and then process it and put their own brand logo on the fabric before marketing it.
Every year Shahjadpur Municipality provides lease contract for market management through auction. This year, the value of the rental contract has risen to nearly 1 crore Tk1 35 lakhs.
Those who get the lease from the market, they divide the market among a few. This distribution is done along the aisles of the market. The alleys are often called “Patti”. Tenants collect rent from stores in their designated aisles. From the total amount they pay for the initial lease and the surplus is their profit.
“Tenants maintain order in the market and are responsible for ensuring commercial securities,” Shariful Islam Saju, organizing secretary of the Shahjadpur Textile Traders Association, told TBS.
Shahjadpur fabric market is no longer limited to government leased premises. Large markets for lungi and other garments have sprung up along government lands.
In addition to large market stores, clothes are also sold in open roadside stores, called “bits”.
Rakibul Islam, chairman of the Shahjadpur Textile Traders Association, said a trade of Tk 150-200 crore is made every market day. Indian traders buy by telegraphic transfer (TT) and letters of credit (LC).
Bangladesh Handloom Board oversees market trading. The Shahjadpur Textile Traders Association assists traders with their purchase. The pieces of cloth bought in Shahjadpur by foreign traders mainly transit through the land ports of Benapole in Jashore and Bhomra in Satkhira. Recently, trade in goods has also started via Chapainawabganj.
Shahjahan Ansari, chairman of Tangail Sadar Upazila Parishad and a leading cloth merchant, said the trading volume per market day at Korotia Haat is also close to Shahjadpur Haat – nearly Tk 150 crore.
Hand-made products are not sold individually in Shahjadpur market like in other big wholesale markets. There are separate units for the sari and the lungi. Saree is sold in pairs. The unit for lungi is “Thaan” – one thaan equals four lungis.
Abdus Salam, the owner of “Priyanka Saree Ghar”, gave an interesting tidbit when asked about the price of sarees and lungis.
“In the wholesale market, we sell sari-lungi in pairs, “peti” and thaan. When someone asks the price of a sari, the sari sellers respond with the price of a pair and for the lungi , they mention the price of one thaan. This often confuses customers,” he said.
In addition to thaan and pairs, there is another sales unit of hand weaving products, which is – “Peti”. However, the number of peti for saree and lungi is different. Six saris make a peti and for lungi, it takes 10 to count a peti. For a bulk purchase, the larger the unit, the lower the price.
Another unit of production and marketing of handloom products is the “hand”. For example, the length of the saree is usually counted as twelve hands or twelve and a half hands. For lungi the standard length is five and a half hands or six hands and for towels it is two and a half hands etc. Tangail saree is slightly longer than Shahjadpur saree.
Some of the most popular types of sarees in the Shahjadpur fabric market include half-silk sarees, hybrid sarees, jamdani sarees, etc. Hybrid yarn is slightly thicker than half floss. There is not much difference in price. Jamdani sarees are the most expensive. The difference in price of the saree is due to the difference in the number of fabrics.
Counting is the calculation of the density of the fabric. The thread count is calculated by dividing the length of the fabric in meters by the weight in grams. Some 200 yarn counts means that 1,000 yards of yarn will weigh only 2 grams. The higher the thread count of a fabric, the finer the fabric. Fine fabrics are more expensive.
The production cost of half-silk and hybrid sarees is around Tk 500-800 per saree sold at Tk 2,200-2,600 per pair.
The production and sale prices of Jamdani sarees vary widely. Jamdani worth Tk 1,500-40,000 is available at Shahjadpur Cloth Market. Sales of printed fabrics have recently increased. The fabrics are made on the loom and subsequent designs are printed on them from the outside.
The biggest market for Jamdani sarees at Shahjadpur Cloth Market is Hamid Market. Other famous markets include Chowdhury Plaza, Sarkar Market, Biswas Market, Haider Sari House, Bakkar Printing House, Mama-Bhagina Market, Kurban Market, Haider Market, Naib Market, Abul Market, etc. The latter is also famous for lungi.
In one or two shops in these markets, several types of Indian sarees including Indian varieties Benaroshi, Baampar, Chumki are available. Although the Indian saree is the second most popular choice for women, Benaroshi sales increase during the wedding season. Although the prices are higher due to the fine workmanship of the sarees, some women are attracted to Indian sarees.
A good quality lungi in Shahjadpur Cloth Market will cost between Tk 2,400-4,000. However, a “thaan” lungi of Tk700-Tk800 is also available in this market. If you buy a thaan lungi or a pair of sarees at a time, you will get a better price. Prices are a little higher in retail stores. However, it is possible to buy at a lower price if you negotiate.
Thanks to this traditional market, the local transport and tourism industry has improved. Small and large residential and non-residential hotels and food shops have sprung up around the market. Good quality foods are available at low prices in these stores. One of the cloth merchants’ favorite dishes is “Doi-Chira”. Confectionery shops including “Modok”, “Bosak”, “Pal” and “Saha” sell Doi-Chira on market days.