Lessons to Learn from Sari-sari Stores in the Philippines

Sari-sari stores are everywhere in the Philippines. We even have our favorites despite normally having at least ten of them in our streets. These small one-stop shops are offering almost anything from candies to prepaid cellphone loads. Simply knock three times on their usually small windows and say your orders and viola you’ll have them in less than a minute.

Convenient store

A business like Sari-sari store is one that is easy to set up by almost anyone and so, many stay-at-home moms in every Baranggay wants to start one. However, most of the time only a few survive in this field of business. I see few reasons why this is happening. One is because of the high number of competition, another is having the same products to offer, and the failure of practicing Separate Entity.

Supply and demand

I once published a post on how to spot business opportunities and one key is to figure whether there’s a need (demand) of what you want to offer. And the next step would be to study how many people are providing (supply) those needs. If the number of suppliers is low, then the green light says you are good to give that market a try.

However, if the result of your study is contrary to the first – the suppliers number is too many, don’t give up just yet. You can still make it by differentiating your business.


To attract and be noticed by customers a business must differentiate itself from its competitors, give them enough reason why they should buy on your store and not on the competition. There are number of ways to do it, you can try the following:

  • Operate 24 hours
  • Offer the right price
  • Smile a little lot more
  • Befriend your buyers
  • Have a presentable store
  • Create banners
  • Offer seasonal giveaways
  • Hold Christmas events

I would also love to hear additional tips from you, share them on the comment section below this post.

Separate entity

The third reason why most Sari-sari stores go bankrupt is the owner’s failure to practice separate entity. Simply put, you and your business have two different lives to deal with. You don’t eat your inventory. You don’t use your business’ asset to feed your family. The key is to pay your self a salary to provide for your needs without using the store’s capital and income.

Consistently practicing this will not only prolong your store’s existence, it will also help on its growth.

A dear friend once told me during our conversation about saving money :

Hindi bale na akong maghirap ng tatlo, limang taon habang nagtitipid at nag si-save kesa maghirap ako buong buhay dahil hindi ako nagtiis ngayon.

To you sari-sari store owners or to anyone running their businesses I say the same thing, save today so you won’t starve tomorrow – Save your business’ asset today by paying your self a salary so it won’t be gone tomorrow.

Though we used the Sari-sari store as our business model on this blog post, the principles are also applicable to any businesses.

If you find this post helpful then I invite you to share it with your friends as well.

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  1. says

    You hit the nail on the head for that, Rambo Ruiz. A sari-sari store could be used as a model that fits all kinds of businesses. To make the sari-sari store get the edge against its competitors, it has to be a one-stop shop that offers a reasonable price for its products. In that way, the customer won’t be looking for anywhere else to buy what they need.

    • Rambo Ruiz says

      I’m happy you like and found this post helpful Napoleon. We do have to differentiate our businesses from others. Always answer the unspoken question “why should I buy on you and not on your competitor?”.

  2. vincent nikko says

    very helpful po.. ask ko lang kung na exp. nio na po ung mag karon ng business of any kind because i have one now. its really hard pag madaming competition lalo na po dito market lang.naghahanap po kase ako ng ways para maging successful na retailer. hope for your reply.. :)

    • Rambo Ruiz says

      Hi Vincent,

      Yes nagkaroon ako ng ilang mga maliliit na negosyo, may mga nagbunga, may mga hindi, meron din namang akala ko ay magtatagal ang pag flourish and yung iba naman ay wala talagang kinahinatnan. Currently, I am a freelance professional web designer as I test the water and still in the process of trying to turn it into something bigger. I am also running a shake-smoothies business with my wife.

      Ano ang iyong pinagkaka-abalahan? I am glad that you find this blog post helpful btw :)

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