Retail trade

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By Godofredo M. Roperos

Politics also

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


WHEN I was just a kid in knee pants, my mother opened a retail store in the public market. She hired two sales ladies to take care of it during school days, and helped the two women on weekends.

She did it, I heard her reason out when asked why, to augment her P42 monthly salary.

We were already three boys in the family, and she said it was not enough to give her family a decent life. When she began teaching, she received only P32 a month.

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I thought of writing about her retail store because, a few days earlier, the barangay called Zaragoza in Aloguinsan town came out in the newspapers. It was there where two top rebel leaders were arrested.

Zaragoza was the name of the barangay where my mother said she was first assigned as a young and single public school teacher. The elementary school was on a promontory that overlooked a farm.

From there, she was transferred to another barangay called Matab-ang in Toledo (now a city) next to our town, Balamban, where she met my father, who was also a public school teacher in our town.

My father had refused to accept a position in the Bureau of Customs when he passed the civil service examinations. His salary when the war broke out was P58 a month. He said that during the early 1900s, the town mayor used to ask him to do the payroll for the town and the school.

But that really is not the central point of this exercise. I read a few days ago that a small business venture is closely working with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) “to revive the sari-sari store economy in Yolanda ravaged areas in Eastern Visayas.” But I ask: Why only in Eastern Visayas? Why not in the whole country?

Since I was kid, the corner sari-sari store in the neighborhood in our town had always been a center of interest to us kids. When my mother opened her own store in one of a row of cubicles for rent on one side of the town market, I was always there after classes in the afternoon when I was in grade school.

Nanay Lilang would visit the store it at sundown to collect the day’s sales from her two hired helpers--sisters named Impiang and Tecla from an upland barangay called Kamanggahan. The retail stores are really mini outlets of basic commodities needed by the masses of our people. These are the average residents of our communities throughout the nation who cannot always afford to go to the groceries in the town markets and malls.

Retail or “sari-sari” stores are small stores set up and scattered any which way all over the place, needing only investment capital counted by the hundreds of pesos, and not by the thousands of pesos that groceries in the markets or the malls may need. Thus the sari-sari store is our economy’s backbone.

Really, the retail stores should be the gauge of the domestic economy of our country.

Their existence in an area should measure the strength and growth of a nation’s economy at the ground level. After all, it is how goods are distributed to the consumers that matters.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 02, 2014.

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