My mama and I thought of putting up a little sari-sari store in our house. Since she would normally get bored when me and my brother go to work, she wanted something to do which she would enjoy a lot. Since the garage is already occupied by my dogs, my brother suggested if we can remove the plants in the garden, have it cemented and tiled. This is where we placed our store. At first, we were quite hesitant because of possible competition and imitation of the business, but for the sake of fun, we started it.
Carpenters prepared the steel matting screen outside the store for protection. They also did the cabinets, the rice containers, and other wooden platforms we can use. We had our electrician fix the electrical wirings such that it can support the voltage requirement of the refrigerator or freezer. We looked for supermarkets where we can buy items at wholesale prices and we asked if they offer free delivery, rewards points or loyalty cards.
Initially we thought it would just be a little store. Since we didn't know what the response would be in terms of sales, we actually thought of just selling the basics - groceries, softdrinks, load. We didn't know it will be a hit.
The secret is actually because of my mom - my mama has a general merchandise store in the province and we sell dry goods like orocan plastics, glasswares, plates, toys, etc. She has a deep mastery of personal relations for people from all walks of life - from the tricycle drivers, to the close neighbors, up to the people living outside the village. The secret is how she relates with people - she smiles at them, greets them, teases them and laughs with them. She is a joy to the neighborhood and I'm proud of her.
Another key idea I learned from my mom is to sell at reasonably cheap prices. Neighbors with stores would always wonder why we can sell Milo sachet (I think the 33-gram pack one) at Php5 while they sell it at Php6. (But due to price increases, we also needed to match the price to Php6). For my mom, it's not the profit at first; it's how fast you sell the goods, like how the Chinese does their business. No wonder why people keep coming back.
From the basic food stuff we decided to put some more goods people are looking for - water, charchoal, rice, sim cards, school supplies, medicines, ice cream and meat products. And the list keeps getting longer! Requests are never ending! You see, it's much pricey to get outside of the village, traverse the flaky street, transfer to a friendly jeep, carry goods and take special trike trip - it's much expensive that way. We sort of "streamlined" the grocery process by taking in the transportation cost when we do our buying and sell goods to people at reasonable prices. Whatever people need, we try to buy them and sell it to them, like Nestogen packs and other milk packs in boxes.
We then got Crystal (at first) then Aquabest (second) as our purified water provider. Opportunity came when Snow Joe Ice Cream trusted us with their ice cream freezer and we began selling ice cream. From 1 sack of rice, we have now more than 3 kinds of rice. To think that we only launched the store end of November!