LEGEND OF THE LOST - Hall & Anderson Store
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LEGEND OF THE LOST – Hall & Anderson Store

Hall and Andersons premises - 1925

Hall & Anderson is the name of the first departmental store in Calcutta. It was established by William Anderson and P. N. Hall, in a modest shop in Esplanade East. Then they shifted to the building of Whiteway Laidlaw & Co, now known as the Metropolitan Building. After some time they purchased a plot of land and buildings at the corner of Chowringhee and Park Street. The whole complex was completely demolished in 1925 and the huge building was opened in October 1925, with half a million square feet of floor space. It was heralded as the finest departmental store in India.

Like other European retail businesses in Calcutta, Hall & Anderson also dealt only in imported or custom made goods. In the later years, they used to spend half the year in Europe, for selecting stocks and bring them back to Calcutta only for the winter season. They claimed that they stock the very latest items from the English and Continental markets. They were the first to introduce kitchen items and hardware as a department. For furniture, they used good Burmese teak and Indian mahogany. Usually, the initial job of making the furniture was subcontracted to Indian carpenters and cabinet makers, but the finishing was done by the workmen of the Hall & Anderson at their workshops. The shop also carried a large range of carpets.

Hall and Anderson were prompt to adopt the value payable post, which not only extended their trade over vast distances, but also reduced the risks of unpaid accounts of distant customers. Their postal department grew to be very large indeed. Orders came from all parts of India, South-East Asia and Aden.

Hall and Anderson employed Indians, but were reluctant to post them as salesmen. They were, however, willing to train Bengalis and Anglo-Indians. In fact, they preferred to recruit young men from Britain.

In 1946, the British partners sold the business to Sahan Lai Jajodia and the first departmental store in Calcutta obliterated forever.

Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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