Visualise a shop where there are no salespeople, and customers are buying the products on their own. No shopkeeper, no bargaining, and no cautious eyes on the customers. And guess what, nobody is taking some 'extra' things, nobody is trying to outway the system. This type of shop is heard of in some other countries or even some schools in Bangladesh called 'Shotota Store' (Honesty Store), but this is one of the few noticeable wholesome shops in Bangladesh of this kind.
This special shop initiated by Hamidur Rahman Shipon is located in Kumarkhali station of Kushtia district. The shop remains open all day and people find it very easy to shop from here. There is a cash box in front of the shop and every product is tagged with a fixed price. People choose products they need, calculate the price, and then put money in the box.
He could be anyone out of the crowd until he took the step and became the one to do it. Hamidur Rahman Shipon is a hawker. Just like any hawker on the street, he also didn't have a fixed income per day. In the year 2013, he started thinking again and again about how to increase his income to lead a solvent life. One day, his mind got hit with the idea, he focused on an almost extinct humane virtue in this period of modernisation- 'Trust'. He put trust in his business and then opened a shop, where it all would be very easy going. He took the initiative and with some suggestion from one of his well-wishers, named it 'Bhinno Rokom Dokan' (A different shop) and he is sometimes called 'Bhinno Shipon' by his acquaintances.
Sitting all day in the shop never seemed very productive to him. So he opens the shop in the morning and sets out to his hawker-life. After every long day, he comes back to the shop and collects the money from the cashbox and then closes the shop. This parallel work life also gives him a sense of productivity and capability.
Textile products like handkerchiefs, bed sheets and towels are the main products of this shop. Shipon has plans to add different products soon when he will be ready.
Trust is the main investment here. The profit has certainly outnumbered the so-called 'trust issue', at least for Shipon. In these years, he never regretted the risk because he thinks it was worthy to take the step. It surely took courage, and in return, he got mental peace. He thinks self-trust is the base of his trust for the people. Doing good for mankind is his only motto in life. Saving money was never the first choice for him, his priority was beyond the materialistic richness. After fulfilling the primary family needs, he loves to spend the remaining money to help people through some social services. He thinks helping people doesn't always require much money, being there when they need someone to share the burden- is also something to cherish for.
Life hasn't been easy for Shipon. At first, his family also didn't support him, everybody he knew was only trying to discourage him and many people called him 'crazy' when they listened to his idea. But over time, the popularity of his initiative grew more and more. Still, it creates some complications in his family life, but they are understanding day by day, he believes. His children are proud of him now and this inspires him more and more. Though he has not gathered much money, the blessings inspire him to go on with his instincts.
His idea of happiness is being an honest earner though it is never much. He lives in a small rented house with his family. He has three children and the eldest daughter is now in college. Most often, it is not easy to maintain his own family and social works he does now and then. Especially at this pandemic period, where nothing seems like before, everyone is trying to cope with the 'new normal', Shipon and his shop have also fallen victim to the changing economy. The income is not like before, the uncertainty is booming; still, he manages to keep his helpful gesture. Recently, he provided masks and hand sanitizers to some people who couldn't afford it.
According to Shipon, through changing time, his initiative has surely influenced his surroundings and people have started considering the bright side of the risk he took. Despite the influence, it will take a long period to make people work in this way, he says. He is always very positive and hopeful toward life. He is confident that someday the trust will be restored and people will start thinking like him. With a never-ending ray of hope, he is marching in the way of life, a dreamer like him doesn't stop dreaming even if life doesn't give the same to him.
The philosophy of his life lies in a very simple sentence uttered from his own perspective: "If you trust people, they will trust you back and that's a two-way process of spreading good vibe in the world."
The writer is a student at the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism in University of Dhaka. She can be reached at