Familiar ‘sari-sari’-A A +A
Saturday, October 27, 2012
A HUMAN interest collection of photos would include scenes in the towns of children playing, or out on errands.
There is one photo I saw in the Internet where two pretty small girls are standing by the metal-barred window of a sari-sari store, looking out shyly at the stranger taking their picture. One of the two is wearing what looks like a borrowed loose pair of pants. The other girl has on a loose blouse, also perhaps borrowed from a bigger sister, its left part comfortably slipping down her small arm. Both of them have just bought candies sold by the piece in a recycled jar and a pack for one of sky flakes
They look expectant of the good day. It’s life as familiar as sari-sari stores.
Or where would a regular resident wife and mother in a community go to if she had no money enough for groceries in supermarkets, but money just right for a simple need of cooking oil in a sachet, or a packet of sugar, oh, yes! onions?
Yes, there are now “modern trade channels” one wouldn’t have imagined in the past years, of supermarkets and supermarkets-combined-with department-stores (or “hypermarkets”) and classifications of “fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG)” purchases.
But sari-sari stores are still on top in a Filipino’s life, according to a consumer survey. A resident in a barangay simply walks to the neighbor’s variety store. She doesn’t have to put on make-up and she doesn’t have to spend on fare from home to supermarkets and back. Besides, there’s not enough pesos with which to buy goods that can fill up a take-home bag.
It’s an ordinary sight, a man looking like he’s still half asleep, walking to his favorite sari-sari store in the morning in under pants, looking expectant of coffee and cigarette at the sari-sari store, on to another day.
The sari-sari store is a low-starting capital business, small-scale, and you’d think never in the history of Philippine trade has a sari-sari store turned into big business. But there are success stories, with the help of financial experts and retailers, as sari-sari store owners do good inventory control, keep up customer relations, and try attractive pricing.
There’s Teresita Antonio of Palawan city who started with P5, 000 on a village business that some PhilAms would call an “upstart scrappy little store” if the talk is about 99 Cent & Up Store in America used by Pinoys out there who are, perhaps, missing sari-sari stores.
Teresita started with a capital which came from the pawn of a family heirloom. With P5, 000 to start with, she was able to buy only a few items, and mostly Coke products. But Coke Philippines helped her out. Teresita has the same sari-sari store that grew bigger in just four years, now earning a gross income of P4, 000 a day.
A simple type of small scale business would also do. It persists in many places in the country, it helps the poor villages and the middle-class subdivisions.
I was told that not so long ago, the path up to Capitol Site and OPRRA was quiet, lonely, with hardly anyone living there. Today, especially near where the barangay hall is, are rows of residents with a space in the house turned into sari-sari stores. The small convenience stores are in a line, hardly is there any house empty of items to be sold.
In a ride for a work assignment up a land rise just off the city, I was told by the driver of the taxi I took that he didn’t have a change for my P500 bill that early in the day. Quickly, I looked to the side of the road for a sari-sari store, and there was one, also to my left side, up ahead, and just beside the next barangay variety store, connecting with those beside it not as rivals in the small trade but neighbors together trying each to make a living. There, I bought some candies and biscuits and got a change.
Where would I have gone to break my bill?
The ones behind the success of this smallscale business are mostly women. Perhaps the two girls in the human interest photo I saw have a dream of putting up a sari-sari store when they grow up, why not?
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 28, 2012.