Sari-sari stores are a regular fixture in a typical neighborhood in the Philippines. They sell a variety (hence the name sari-sari) of goods such as food (canned goods, noodles, biscuits), kitchen necessities (cooking oil, soy sauce, salt), powdered products (laundry powder, coffee mix, powdered orange juice), drinks (beer, softdrinks), toiletries (shampoo sachets, soap, detergents, toothpaste) to services (pay phone, cellphone loading station). While the margins may be small, the products you sell are fast moving and essential in daily life so they are in high demand, making it possible for you to generate stable, sustainable revenue.
But besides making profit out of your small sari-sari store, there are also other benefits of owning one.
1. Your goods serve as your daily household stocks. Although the main purpose is to be sold to neighborhood customers, your retail goods on sale can also be part of your household inventory. While this may not sound a good idea for a disciplined entrepreneur looking to grow business, having readily available commodities within your reach means you don’t have to go out to the supermarket, saving you time and transportation costs.
2. You make a portion of your home more useful. If part of your home is located close to heavy foot traffic, like near the entrance of a school, church or public transport hub, setting up your sari-sari store becomes within the vicinity is a commercially viable option. Once the business grows and proven to be a commercial success, you have the option to lease out this place should you wish to discontinue your sari-sari store business.
3. It enables you to become eligible to small loans. As a small business owner of a sari-sari store, you may qualify to microlending programs such as Hapinoy lending program to grow the business. Your ability to pay off loans at designated timeframe opens up opportunity to get higher loan amount.
4. You get free stuff from distributors and dealers. Frequent or bulk buyers often get freebies from suppliers such as calendars, pen, kitchen and dining supplies or extra discounts and free product samples or extra items (think buy 3 get one free product offers).
5. You provide employment. Whether its your pastime, give job to unemployed neighbor, or wish to help an out of school youth resume studies while doing you a favor by looking after your shop, having a sari-sari store opens up job opportunities especially those who failed to finish education, seniors or those with disabilities.
6. You are the boss. You can open the shop anytime you want, you can sleep on the job (and woken up by a familiar ‘pabili po’ alarm clocks) and you’ll not get fired. You can choose which items to sell based on your inventory trends, and set the rules (wala pong utang).
7. You can save based on retail earnings. A sari-sari store business can be one of your investment vehicles that allow you to save money for future use such as emergency expense, educational fund or paying the utility bills.
8. It enhances your arithmetic skills. Whether math is your favorite subject or not, owning a sari-sari store maintains your arithmetic skills sharp. Adding up the price of two kilos of rice, a pack of sugar, a dozen 3-in-one coffee and two shampoo sachets requires addition skills, and deducting change from a P500 bill should keep your math skills in check while making use of substraction abilities learned in primary school.
9. Make justification of owning appliances. You may have planned to buy juicer or refrigerator, but deemed it’s not so practical at home. Now that you have a sari-sari store, owning them becomes more practical. Juicer can be used to make fresh fruit juices while the refrigerator will become a useful utilty to store ice, softdrinks, ice candy, and whatever item you sell that requires cold storage.
10. You make your pastime more worthwhile. Instead of spending the whole day watching television or doing nothing, you have this sense of purpose. You wake up in the morning looking forward to opening your sari-sari store, arrange the goods, interact with neighbors and earn money at the same time.
With discipline and focus, sari-sari store owners have become successful no matter how small their shops may be. Some have claimed sari-sari store business helped send children to school or get by with daily household expenses. But besides the monetary aspect as a business, we realize that sari-sari stores have brought us many other benefits.