A civil engineer, who has been working abroad for long, has just redefined the concept of a flour mill for Kochi's city folk. Venugopal R's The Miller has become the sought-after shop for many in Kochi in a short span of time.
What makes The Miller different from traditional flour mills is the way in which it is conceived as a one-stop-shop for all your questions on quality when it comes to condiments, spices, flours and oils, claims Venugopal.
“It's a shop without any blind spot,” says Venugopal, the managing director, exuding confidence about his model that gives much importance to transparency.
The Miller has its first shop opened at Kadavanthra apart from launching a full-fledged online store. The mill-cum-shop at Kadavanthra is unique in terms of its design, diversity and style of functioning. It has an exquisite outlook with its beautifully arranged wooden drums and glass jars containing grains, seeds and spices, all directly procured by the shop owner. Just a glass wall away, there is the mill where all the grinding and crushing are done using the latest machinery.
A customer can choose what she wants from the different varieties available and get the flour and spices of her choice milled and packed in front of her.
The Miller uses separate machines for every product. It offers a wide variety of products including, flours, different types of spices, blended spices, oils and instant masalas. Its oil varieties include coconut oil, flaxseed oil, mustard oil, rapeseed oil and almond oil.
The shop offers products priced the same as in the market and also some high-end ones.
“The miller is just not a shop wherein you buy all the condiments as you do from supermarkets. Here the customer gets to choose between the different breeds and gets to see the whole process which makes them aware of the quality of the product. At The Miller, you are assured of the quality of the products you are buying because everything is done in front of you and my shop has been designed in such a manner there is no blind spot. The customer gets to see the whole shop and the whole process area,” Venugopal says.
The coffee inspiration
Venugopal was inspired by a coffee shop where he could choose the breed he wanted. “It all started sometime back when we went to buy coffee. I was really impressed by the way they showed us different breeds of coffee and how they did all the grinding and roasting in front of us. It was then that I thought why not adapt such a model for the products we use in our kitchens everyday,” he says. He conceived the idea of The Miller three years ago.
The Miller is on an expansion mode. “We have devised our model in such a manner that we expect The Miller to be in every district of Kerala and even other cities of the country. We have based it on the franchise model and this week the first franchise is being opened in Kakkanad. The second is coming up in Elamakkara. Our fourth outlet is coming up in TDM Hall. Very soon, we will be in Thrissur and Kozhikode too,” Venugopal said.
Within a short period, the venture has acquired a loyal customer base, which includes a good number of expatriates.
“I am staying in Dubai. Everytime we come to Kerala we come here. The reason I find it interesting is that it reminds me of my childhood when I used to take condiments like chilli and coriander to the mill in our locality. But more than that, the quality of the products is highly satisfying,” said Eldo Skaria, who was at The Miller for his last-minute shopping the day he was scheduled to return to Dubai.