Itahari, a long-time village, officially graduated to municipality in 1997. However, the shopping culture via shopping centres started just after five years of the municipality status in 2003.

Gorkha Department Store, the first famed department store, drew shoppers from around cities of East Nepal like Dharan, Damak, Biratnagar, Inaruwa, and the likes.

Even Indian shoppers started visiting Itahari for shopping experience thanks to the shopping store concept of Balaram Acharya, the pioneer of Gorkha Department Store.

Lately, Gorkha has opened its branches in other cities of East Nepal. Having seen business prospects of shopping culture in East Nepal, Bhat Bhateni Super Market joined the game. It opened its branch in Dharan in 2017 and in Biratnagar in 2018.

Recently, Bhat Bhateni also opened its new Itahari outlet in the first week of September.

Located at Itahari-16, Labipur, some 4-kilometre away from Itahari square, this outlet is Nepal's largest outlet covering 35 Kattha land, said Min Bahadur Gurung, owner of Bhat Bhateni store. Gurung said his company had invested Rs three billion for the Itahari outlet. Traders and hoteliers of Itahari are elated at having Nepal's biggest Bhat Bhateni Super Market in Itahari.

"Shopping matters in the age of social media and brand-conscious youth," said Sunil Bhusal, a hotel and school operator and tourism entrepreneur of Itahari.

"This store increases the flow of Indian clients from adjoining areas of Bihar, which borders Sunsari district."

Bikal Poudel, one of the operators of Itahari-based Birat Television, said Itahari had already been established as a shopping city and this largest outlet has consolidated this status. "Itahari had developed shopping culture in East Nepal and other cities followed it. Now that Itahari houses Nepal's largest outlet, this will give more business impetus to the entire city," said Poudel.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 7 2021, of The Himalayan Times.