Sari-sari stores are one of the important backbones in our society. Dating back during the pre-Spanish era, its presence in the barrios, barangays, municipalities and cities, have become part of our daily lives. It is peculiar that no other countries in this part of the world have this large number of sari-sari stores elsewhere.
Let me describe to you the usual characteristics of sari-sari stores. Typical sari-sari store settings has grills or screens for protection against theft, lighter or match hanging on the door of the screen for cigarette buyers wanting to light their stick, has a make-shift bench outside the store for people wanting to eat their snacks, as a meeting place for “tsimosos/tsismosa”, and at nights as a mini-bar for guys wanting to get drunk. A sari-sari store is also a source of socialization where people exchange ideas and thoughts. This is the classic lay-out of sari-sari stores we have known ever since we were a child.
Costs of retail goods are high compare to wholesale goods we usually found in the market and income generated in this retail type of businesses usually takes time to garner profit. The typical measurements in this type of stores are usually by takal (by volume) or by tingi (by piece). But why do people still flock sari-sari stores and why entrepreneurs chose to invest their hard-earned money in this type of industry?
The main reason is that Filipinos, in general, have a very low per capita income and live on a daily basis. Another good reason for it is we prefer to buy their goods in a place that is near to their homes. They prefer to pay a little sum of money in this good rather than waste it for transportation fares from going to the city central wherein they can save more through bargaining the prices of goods. We Pinoys are known for not stocking foods for a long duration as we prefer our foods are fresh and new. Some don’t even know that their “fresh” canned goods usually are stocked for about a week inside the store. Another advantage on having your neighbour’ houses with sari-sari stores are they usually approve giving credits as long as you pay them immediately. Bad thing about it is that it cuts the day’s profit and most especially, gives stress to store owners on how to locate people
who are not paying their debts.
Filipinos prefer to have this type of business for you don’t need to hire somebody to manage your store. You can just “hire” your family members or even give this job to your maids. With that, it reduces the cost of maintaining this business and it also strengthens bond between family members. This retail business also gives you profit before the day’s end. As long as we can see lots of coins acquired from that day, we can say that our sari-sari store has been successful on that day without the use of computations as guide on the exact profit earned on that day. This business gives you a turn-around ratio of how fast you are able to recover your capital.
And how big is this type of business here in our country? 70% of Filipinos would rather have a business than sit in offices. Surely a portion of that wants to engage themselves in kind of retail industry as people prefer to sit inside the store while watching their favourite telenovela rather than being a zombie in the corporate world. There are approximately 700,000 sari-sari stores in the country, making up for 30-40 per cent of total retail sales in the Philippines. This is a small Juan De La Cruz business that has a big impact in our country.