Opening a new business or expanding the existing operations amid a pandemic do not make sense as demand invariably tends to be too low.
But some intrepid local entrepreneurs are going against the grain. If anyone goes through Banani 11, they would come across the dazzling façade of two new stores, which corroborate the claims of economists and experts that Bangladesh would witness a V-shaped recovery once the pestilence passes.
One is the outlet of Yoyoso, a South Korean fast fashion designer brand, and the other is a store of Roar, a newly founded lifestyle brand.
Fakir Apparels, a sister concern of Fakir Group, brought Yoyoso to Bangladesh, in what is the top garment exporter's first step in the retail landscape.
It had signed the deal with Yoyoso back in December, becoming the master franchisee of the company, which has a footprint in 60 countries and more than 2,000 stores.
The first store of Yoyoso Bangladesh was opened on 1 June, right in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic. "We are receiving an overwhelming response from the people of Dhaka amidst pandemic. We had not expected the response to be this great," Munzarin Zaman, managing director of Yoyoso Bangladesh, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The shop caters to all age groups with products such as toys, digital accessories, cosmetics, skincare, haircare, stationeries, homeware, plates, cutleries, cups, glasses, flasks, trendy handbags, shoulder bags, flip flops, seasonal merchandise and fashion jewellery. All the products in the shop came from Yoyoso's headquarters in Seoul.
At a time when people were shedding jobs and salaries, Yoyoso Bangladesh employed 20 people and provided them with full salary and Eid bonus.
"Currently, we have one store. We plan to open 10 more stores in coming years depending on the economic recovery," said Zaman, also a director of Fakir Apparels and Fakir Group.
To cater to online customers, Yoyoso Bangladesh penned a deal with a logistics company to provide home delivery.
"Although we encourage customers to avail the online service, many customers are coming to the store."
The brand maintains a strict hygiene measure and frequently disinfects the surfaces of the 2,000-square-feet store.
On the ground floor of the building that houses Yoyoso is Roar.
"I have a dream to take this Bangladeshi brand to global consumers," Mahir Haroon, Roar's founder and chief executive officer of the brand, told The Daily Star.
According to the entrepreneur, big brands sell apparel items that are made in Bangladesh. But these clothes can be sold at a price that is several times lower than what the famous brands charge.
"So, I want to sell the best quality clothing items at a convenient price."
Customer can buy men's, women's and kids knitwear and woven and denim items such as T-shirts, pants, jeans, shorts, loungewear and athleisure from the outlet.
"We will be adding more lifestyle items in the near future."
Haroon had to struggle a lot to open the store during the pandemic.
"It was supposed to open a few months ago. But a lot has changed because of the virus. But I had to pay rent every month."
But when he saw major retail brands opened stores in the country, he decided to go ahead ensuring all the hygiene and social distancing measures.
"We still encourage home delivery and I am happy to provide jobs to several people during this tough time."