Sari-Sari store in the Philippines is it viable?

Sari-sari store - PhilippinesIts an odd business here in the Philippines running a small store (sari-sari) as there are no real wholesalers you generally just buy at the retail stores (because of the problems of monopoly’s and cartels in the country) and just add a small amount to each item. Many of the goods that come from the supermarkets are already pre-priced with the sari-sari stores in mind.

This is ours as you can see its well stocked (there is another set of shelves out of shot to the right). Originally it started with a couple of crates of beer and then expanded into soft drinks etc. etc. Now also diapers and various medicines are available and it will no doubt continue to expand over time.

How I look at this business is not as a full-time role or job but simply a bolt on business. Generally most Expats are at home a lot of the time and our store is accessible through a hatch in the wall it could just as easily be a window where you sell to your neighbours. Cost of cold drinks being cooled has to be compared to the amount of electric being used to actual profit. Its not always viable at the same time having the coldest beer in the area also means people travel to us for it.

The viability to the business though for an expat especially if living with family or family living with them is a small subsidy income. For example if you have relatives living with you with idol hands getting them to sit at the sari-sari making money watching TV is better than them just watching TV. Many people assume a small store only yields a small profit but that’s the point its profit if it makes P2,000 or P20,000 its still income and one that isn’t a business expensive to expand or time consuming (because you run it when people are available). Ours is open every day and can see it developing into something bigger as currently we are running out of space for things we sell. Dried fish and expanding our range of peso sweets have happened this week which means we now need to add another section of some description to accommodate people being able to see them from this viewpoint.

2 comments for “Sari-Sari store in the Philippines is it viable?

  1. Anonymous
    April 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Hi Matt, we had a store for a few months. It did generate some income, and fun in the beginning. However I think it was too much hassle for the work we put down. Trying to watch a movie was hard, always a kid coming “palit ko..”. Sometimes I really wondered if I needed that peso. Besides, we didn’t have a car, so stacking up the motorbike was not always funny.

    Selling ice candy had the biggest profit. Testing new items was also fun, but the kids’ mind change quickly so what was popular last week might not be the next. I’m also not retired, but if I was – it’s a good way of keeping you busy and to interact with the locals as well as learning the language.

    • Tropicalpenpals
      April 4, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Agree its a matter of choice. At the same time like you said location is also important we are about 5mins from the supermarket by motorbike so not really an issue. Also the soft drinks are delivered by the distributor as well as the beer so that takes a lot of the hard work out of it. The other thing here though is 4-5 adults here most of the time so always someone can tend the store when needed. The reason I brought up the relative thing is I know of people with people living with them that refuse to work. Sticking them in the store they may actually go and get a job instead of lounging around the house as being at home they have to work anyway but at least if they get their own job they have a salary.