Know Your City: For 117 years, this store has been selling winter wear for steamy Chennai – The Indian Express

Chennai News

A winter wear shop in Chennai may not sound like a great business idea. But there is one store which has thrived doing that and become the go-to destination for people ahead of packing their bags for cooler climes; Joonus Sait & Sons, known as the Woollen House, at Rattan Bazaar near Parrys.

Established in 1905 by Hajee Ibrahim Sait, the shop is now run by the fourth-generation owner Usman Sait, 62, who is proud that their 117-year-old establishment remains the best in the city when it comes to winter clothing, especially woollen wears.

Established in 1905 by Hajee Ibrahim Sait. (Express Photo)

“Our ancestors migrated from Bellary in Karnataka to Chennai due to cholera and typhoid outbreaks. We introduced products like silk, rayon, and shirt materials. After some years, we started to introduce woollen clothes. Chennai is a warm city, it has never been a cold one. But if the temperature dips below 20 degrees Celsius, people here start to shiver. We saw a huge demand for winter clothing. People started buying products like woollen socks, mufflers and sweaters, mainly for infants. Youngsters who fly abroad to Canada, Russia and Europe buy winter clothing from us. Also, those visiting local tourist spots like Ooty, Shimla, and Kodaikanal purchase from us,” says Usman.

chennai news, indian express Joonus Sait & Sons. (Express Photo)

Joonus Sait, Usman says, was the first to introduce Raymond franchises in the city. Monte Carlo, Gadoni, Casa Blanca, Long Johns are some of the international brands it sells now. Usman says the shop has been marketing brands like Duck Band, Real Rainwear and Reliable Rainwear. It has materials like light weighted wool and blankets which suit the city.

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chennai news, indian express Joonus Sait, Usman says, was the first to introduce Raymond franchises in the city. (Express Photo)

Usman says they do not deal with local brands and give their customers quality products like woollen shawls, jackets, vests, leather gloves and leather jackets. He remembers a message from his father Ibrahim Sait that losing one customer is equal to losing 100 of them. All the products at Joonus Sait are available at fixed rates and Usman requests customers not to bargain.

According to Usman, the cost of their products depend on factors like petrol price and exchange rate.

Usman adds the price of their products like petrol prices and exchange rates.


“We want to give quality products to the customers. We never want to sell for the sake of selling and that is the confidence we have built in our customers and that’s what keeps our shop running for these many years,” says Usman.

He notes that the trust the shop has garnered has passed on from one generation to other.

“Those who bought clothes during my father’s time are bringing their grandchildren to the store to suit their needs. It’s been like a family more than a seller-buyer relationship. I give them what they need, I don’t suggest any product that won’t be useful to them as I don’t want them to lose their money for my benefit,” he says.


chennai news, indian express Usman Sait at work. (Express Photo)

Usman says when his father was around, he never got the chance to sit at the cash counter and had to always do some work or the other at the shop.

“It took me almost 45 years to get this seat. Now my sons Naumaan Sait and Safwaan Sait, the fifth generation of the family, are running the store and I am helping them in whichever way possible.”

Apart from Parrys, Joonus Sait and Sons operates also at Purasawalkam and Adyar. Those shops are managed by Usman’s wife Zulekha Usman Sait and son Safwaan Sait. Usman says they might expand their shop to places like Anna Nagar, Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR).

Usman’s son Naumaan Sait notes they used to have a tailoring unit that used to stitch attires for advocates and robes for judges as the Madras High Court is close to their store.

chennai news, indian express Shop interior. (Express Photo)

Usman does not believe in putting out his product online as well. He says they pick the best from the manufacturing units in Ludhiana and Mumbai.


“I have told them (his sons) sorry, I am not for online sale. They can do as per their wish after my time but I have informed them that by doing that, they are chasing away the customers. I want the customer to come to my door. Touch the wool, feel it and then you will realise the quality of the product. I am not against others who do online shopping, it’s just that I don’t want to miss the crowd in my shop,” he says.