KOCHI: At the start of the Press Club Road near the PWD nursing home, stands the PV John’s Firework store. The quaint shop with its decades-old sign and myriad crackers is a familiar sight to Kochiites. Also this year, for Vishu, customers line up in front of this iconic 75-year-old store.
The shop was founded in 1947 by PV John. Now the 95-year-old veteran rarely comes to the store. “He only stopped coming to the store after the pandemic started,” says Tessi, John’s daughter. Her husband Reji now runs the store.
“The store is open year-round, but Vishu is where they have the most business. We had to close in 2020, but 2021 was slightly better,” says Reji. business in Vishu and Easter. However, due to the sudden summer rain, not many people come to buy crackers,” Reji says, adding that the store has many loyal customers.
“Many of them have been visiting the store since its creation. Now even their children and grandchildren visit Vishu,” he says.
Although the store retains its old world charm, it is up to date when it comes to types of firecrackers. “Most of our items are eco-friendly crackers that don’t produce a lot of smoke. Sparklers have become a popular item now. Previously, people preferred cones,” says Reji.
John’s children and grandchildren also come to the store to buy firecrackers. This year, her three daughters and their children are at the store with the staff. “Only one of our employees has worked here since the beginning. His name is Rajan. All the others who were with our father have become very old. Many died,” says Kunjimol, John’s daughter.
The oldest store on the street
According to Jayachandran, who runs the CICC Book House in Press Club Road, John is the oldest tradesman on the street. “This store started when Ernakulam was not a big city like it is today. Back then, this street was known as TB Road – Tourist Bungalow Road. The Press Club started here only 50 years ago,” he says. Even the city rickshaw drivers know the store. “A customer just has to say the cracker shop on Press Club Road, and we’ll know it’s John’s shop,” says Prajeesh, a rickshaw driver who dropped off a customer at the store.