The Shopping Complex was started by Bhagawan originally in the early 1970s.He had understood the great hardship the devotees had to go through in the early days for getting items of daily use. In the 1950s and 1960s, when Puttaparthi was still a small hamlet bereft of a convenience store, the residents of Puttaparthi used to travel all the way to the near-by town Bukkapatnam and purchase their daily needs. Sri. PeddaVenkamarajugaru, the blessed father of Bhagawan Baba, thought of a genuine service for the devotees of Baba who came from far off places and stayed in Puttaparthi for Baba’s darshan. He used to collect the lists of items the devotees needed, then went himself to Bukkapatnam, purchased all those materials, bring and distribute them to the devotees back in Puttaparthi. He took it upon himself this task as a service to the devotees of Baba. This was how the idea of opening up a convenience store in the Ashram came up.
Over time, as the needs of the devotees grew, the shopping complex also grew in size. Sri Sathya Sai Prasanthi General Stores – popularly known as “The Shopping Complex” is one of the biggest attractions that the devotees of the Ashram visit after Bhagawan’s Darshan in Kulwant Hall.
Today, there are over 16,000 items sold in a huge three storied complex spread over 27,000 sq. ft. offered at the lowest possible prices. One can easily challenge and say that ALL the items in the complex are available at rates that are LOWER than the MRP.The fundamental rule with which Bhagawan started the Shopping Complex was that, “this Shopping Complex is not here for making profit, it is but to serve the devotees”.He insisted that profit or business orientation should NEVER be given importance at any stage. Instead, high quality products must be offered at the lowest possible prices to the devotees. This is one of the main reasons why the Shopping Complex alone attracts a footfall of more than 6000 devotees every single day, inspite of the limitationof its operating/shopping hours.
The Ground floor
The Ground floor houses the day to day items and has the largest variety when compared to the other two floors. The Ground floor has the following:
- Fast Moving Consumer Goods such as Toilet soaps, Detergents, Personal care products, Hair care, Dental care, Napkins, etc.
- Ready-to-eat items such as Confectioneries, Cordials, Chocolates, Chips, Namkeen, etc.
- Grocery items such as Rice, Dal(s), Cereals, Masalas, Pickles, etc.
- Over the Counter Medicines and Drugs such as Ayurvedic medicines,Crocin, Saridon, Digiene, etc, especially non-prescription medicines.
- Stainless Steel utensils, the kitchen ware, household requirements, etc.
- Audio Visual items such as DVDs, VCDS and CDs on Bhagawan,
- Greeting Cards and Dafflis, Laminated photos, Pooja items such asLamps, Agarbattis, Household items, Steel utensils….and many such more are located in the Ground Floor.
The First floor:
The First floor is dedicated to women’s wear and houses a large variety of daily wear, special wear etc. The First floor has:
- Varieties of Saris including pure Silk saris, Belgaum saris, Gadwal silks,Dharmavaram silks etc.
- Readymade Salwar-Kameez,Frocks, Tops, Kurthis and Pyjamas, Women’s trousers, Dupattas, Nightwear etc.
- Shawls, Towels, Napkins, Seasonal school dresses of all sizes for girl children are also placed in separate sections.
- Household linen such as Curtains, Bed sheets, Table tops etc.
- Watch Counter – There is a separate watch counter which sells wrist watches, gift items, and other high valueutility items.
The Second Floor:
The Second floor is dedicated to men’s wear and has a largevariety of daily wear, special wear etc. The Second floor has:
- Men’s formal and Casual wear, Cloth materials, Readymade garments – such as Shirts, Trousers, Pyjamas, Kurthas, Bermudas, Lungis, and Dhotis, Innerwear, Belts, Nightwear etc.
- Readymade clothes and Cloth material for young boys is also available.
The Second Floor also has Footwear (ladies and gents) and Travel Luggage items are known for their quality and lowest prices. The primary reason for this beingthat a majority of these items are sourced directly from the manufacturers. For this reason, these two sections are a big attraction in the shopping complex.
Most of the people serving in the Shopping Complex are voluntary service staff. Bhagawan Baba says that every living being is a manifestation of God and accordingly, each and every devotee who walks in is treated with utmost respect. One can experience a very happy, completely different and spiritual atmosphere while shopping. It is literally shopping in a spiritual ambience. Additionally, there are paid people working in locations wherever necessary.