Witty, offbeat and niche – the kitsch craze has caught up with everyone who doesn’t mind flaunting the quirky side of their personalities. Neha Malude tells you where to unleash the kitsch-lover in you.

To the casual onlooker, Chennai shops only for two things – gold and saris. We say – false! We love a little kook and here’s proof to support our whacky theory.

The Old Curiosity Shop @ Royapettah

tinposter1Tucked between several handicraft stores in Royapettah, this red brick building with a name written in old English text personifies quirky. Lover of all things retro can’t afford to miss it. Step in and find yourself transported to the golden era – vinyl records made out of paper, grandfather clocks, Pepsi-Cola posters made of tin, rare black and white pictures of Elvis and so much more. This quaint old shop is bursting at the seams with so many things that it’s near impossible to explore it in one day.

It has everything a collector could possibly want – from tiny ceramic figurines and antique railway regulator clocks to old Navy style brass telescopes and fancy old Polaroid cameras. And if you’re looking for replicas of antiques you can get those here as well. While you are there, don’t forget to check out the antique jewellery collection. Aptly named, The Old Curiosity Shop is the perfect place to spend a long, quiet afternoon exploring and listening to stories of how the family that owns the place has been collecting these treasures for over three decades.phone

Check out: Antique railway regulator clock (Rs 2000 onwards), antique amethyst rings (Rs 2000 onwards).

For further details click here.

Chumbak @ Crimson Chakra

If you haven’t heard of Chumbak yet, you’re definitely among the very few who haven’t noticed its colourful persona around the city. The brand, which prides itself on its desipan, started out with whimsical magnets, phone covers and other small accessories that combine India and humour. Over the years though, it has diversified and introduced many other quirky merchandise like boxer shorts, all-purpose tins, key chains, coasters and so much more. And all these are available at the reception of Crimson Chakra, where Chumbak has introduced a mini-store. As a first time buyer, you might find the products a tad pricey considering their size and I-can-make-this-at-home quality but nothing beats their kitsch appeal. We’ve tried tearing ourselves away from their store on numerous occasions, but in vain.

Check out: Auto rickshaw magnet, Balloon walah magnet (both Rs 150)

For further details click here.

The Play Clan @ The Rain Tree Hotel

playclan1Their mission is to make ‘the mundane, magical’ and they seem to do that well given their popularity across the country. The Play Clan, which started in Pondicherry, creates everything from apparel and curios to home décor, stationery and accessories. Here too you’ll find inspirations from local culture in every product but with edgy and bold designs splashed with bright colours. They have it all – whether it’s Chora-Chori cushion covers, a tee shirt depicting a crowded Mumbai local t-shirt that reads ‘Lavkar Chada’ or pictures of Rajasthani men on a teacup that says ‘Muchhad’. We do have a teensy complain – the merchandise is mercilessly expensive.  However, if you’re kitsch crazy and give this playful store a quick once over, you never know what you might find.

Check out: Coasters (Rs 595), Business card holders (Rs 1495)

For further details click here.

Chamiers @ R.A Puram

Graffiti beer mugs, Sholay themed shot glasses, an Indian toilet shaped ashtraychamiers1 aptly called sandaas, this charming little nook is stocked with everything for a kitschy makeover. Choose from printed mugs that depict everything ‘namma’ Chennai is about, like Elliots Beach and auto wallahs or select a key holder that looks like the back of a truck to coasters that give you a number of reasons to be Happily Unmarried and other home decor. Old movie buffs can find Madhubala and Rekha totes and if you love collecting stationery, the store has colourful journals from Eco Corner and Penguin notebooks designed to look like Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice chamiers2or Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights. All in all, this store has all the makings of a kitsch lover’s dream shopping destination written all over it. So, step in and step away from the norm.

Check out: Sandaas ash tray (Rs. 500), Penguin diaries (Rs. 299) and mugs (Rs. 299)

For further details click here.

While the above mentioned four standalone stores have a number of products that appeal to a niche customer type, there are smaller stores, which also stock a small collection of quirky merchandise. The Contemporary Window in Besant Nagar stocks some great bar products from Happily Unmarried while Evolv in Express Avenue Mall has a small collection of Dream Factory and Quirk Box products.

Kitschy products are a great way of injecting some colour and fun into your day and sometimes even make for great conversation starters. So, the next time you’re out shopping try something different.