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 to buy in your store and not on the competition. There are number of ways to do it, and 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 in the comment section below this post.

Separate entity

The third reason 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 yourself 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 to┬áits 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 those who run businesses, I say the same thing, save today so you won’t starve tomorrow – Save your business’ asset today by paying yourself 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.


  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 :)

  3. fai says

    Nice article. very helpful sa nagsisimula pa lng ng sari sari business. any tips sa tamang pagpresyo ng items.

  4. Noe Jimenez says

    Hi Sir Rambo Ruiz,

    Gusto ko pong mag-start ng negosyo this coming June sa province nmin sa Negros Occ…
    Yung house po nmin mlapit sa high school and elementary school,so ano po kyang pwedeng negosyo ang aking bubuksan.,my dalawa po akong competators,yung isa sarisari store at yung isa canteen and sarisari store, plano ko po kc a small canteen,school supplies and a mini store..,magkno po kya ang aabutin ng capital ko for that business,sana matulungan nyo po aq,1st tym ko po kc ng ganyang business,may business aq b4 pero 5’6 po yun dto x manila…

    • Anna says

      siguro maganda ang business mo ay hindi katulag sa mga competitors na sinasabi mo. try mo kaya ang pagbenta ng mga school supplies, photocopying and printing and laminating business.

    • Rambo Ruiz says

      Thanks for dropping by Noe :) I don’t claim to be an expert sa mga ganitong businesses and so ang pwede ko lang maishare sa iyo ay aking mga opinyon lamang at batay sa aking experiences. Una, ay may mga iba’t ibang mga factors para pmagdcecide kung ano sisimulan na negosyo, pero batay sa ibinahagi mo, kung ako ang nasa kalagayan mo sa ngayon ay.. ok naman ang idea ng small canteen :) ang napansin ko lang ay kung HS and Elem students ay hindi naman sila palakain ng mga kanin at ulam sa canteen, so pwede siguro magfocus sa ibang paninda kagaya ng Ice Cream or Smoothies. Ito ang picture ng isang shake stand namin :)

      Maganda rin ang punto ni Ana tungkol sa posibilidad ng laminating or photocopying.

      Mag observe ka sa behavior ng mga studyante sa lugar na gusto mo pagpwestuhan. Since taga Manila ka kamo, silipin mo muna kung paano ba ang behavior ng mga students sa province. Kung sa Manila ay baka barya lang sa kanila ang 20 to 40 pesos, baka sa probinsya ay hindi aabot sa ganyan ang kaya gastusin ng mga bata. Maliban ung private schools siguro :)

  5. Trisha Carlos says

    very informative. lalo na sa tulad ko na gustong magsimula ng negosyo, im working in a supermarket at nakita ko ang success ng mga customers namen. and true enough nasa handling of finances ang success. at dapat hilig mo talaga ang sales. kapag me sarisari store ka na ikaw mismo lalapitan ng mga ahente at a lower cost. kaya mas maganda ang kita, naretain mo yung low price mo pero me dagdag kita kase nakuha mo sa lower cost ang goods mo. ideally 20% daw dapat ang ipapatong sa mga goods na ibebenta. and not over that price.

  6. Fe Ellevera says

    Salamat sa mga tips u po sir! Mkakatulong to pra sa negosyo na aking papasukan. Pangarap kong talaga na magkaronoon ng sari sari store!
    Fe :-)

  7. Daisy says

    wow! i like your topic about sari-sari store. I have sari_sari store in my House, that is true many competitors so you have to do your own techniques to attract many customer. And it is really a big help in terms of financial needs. So to those moms who have business like this just enjoy and be smart. God bless

  8. Jasmine Mendoza says

    Nag start aq sa 500 pesos na puhunan.awa ng diyos khit pano napalago q ito ng konti.problema q lng mnsan sa mga customers pg my kulang sa bayad mnsan d na binabalik.ano kaya mganda gawin.kaya alam q karamihan sa ngsasara na sari sari store sa utang.

    • Rambo Ruiz says

      Hello Jasmine

      Saganang akin lang naman, marahil ay need ng mga store owners maging firm about sa kanilang “pautang” requirements. Decide kung sino ang kanilang pauutangin or kung hanggang magkano lang.

      Thanks for dropping by :)

      • Zorando Najdovski says

        Me gusto lang akong tulungan na malapit sa akin na mag tayo ng sari sari store. I just really want her to get focus and be successful. I search every topic that I could find regarding opening said sari sari store from permits that would be needed, ideas, pointers, tips and strategies and even seminar that she could possibly attend to gain more knowledge and I’m thankful for the informative insights that you added. Thanks

  9. Anna says

    Thank you po. very practical tips and easy to understand. kabubukas lang naming ng sari-sari store nong Nov. 28. marami pang kulang sa mga laman pero ok naman. nasa kanto ang area naming at facing highway. Hindi kami nagbebenta ng alak at sigarilyo kahit maraming naghahanap at marami ring nagsa-suggest na magbenta kami ng mga yon dahil malaki ang tubo. pero still ayaw ko talaga. Kaya I am thinking how to make my store different and attractive sa customers. sa ngayon, gusto ko maglagay ng folding table sa harapan ng tindahan na pwedeng gamitin ng mga gusting mag-snacks, magkape etc. And then, since madala ang brownout ditto sa lugar naming, maglalagay din ako ng battery at solar panel para comfortable pa rin ang mga customers kahit brownout. share lang naman. baka mapakinabangan din ng iba. pero ok po ba yong idea ko? yong nanay ko kasi kontra eh. kahit daw wala ng table, thanks.

  10. arnel lopez says

    sir your principles are very true i started one just last nov 13 this year and i believe we put in all the factors that displaced old sari sari stores around us: low prices, combination of sari sari store and carinderia, lots of creative banners, smile service, giveaways and a clean presentable store. my partner and myself will give it a year and would like the next step like mini grocery.we want to evolve so competitors will not be able to keep up

  11. jazz says

    Hi. im a single mom with a bed ridden child who suffer from severe case of cerebral palsy which requires my full time attention with her. Planning to open a sari2 store kaso natatakot naman ako mag start. hayzz

  12. isabelo D. Orais says

    I have learned a lot from the tips on how to manage a sari-sari store in which I am about to open and start this month. I would like to add that it is also important that your goods are not expired and being clean always in your self and the entire place. Thank you very much and God bless us all.

  13. megan says

    tnx sa tips po ninyo, balak ko rin mag open ng sari sari store dito sa lugar namin, sa looban ng iskineta po lugar namin di naman po ganun karami tao dito, may sari sari store din po ang kapitbahay namin yon nga lang konti lang din paninda nya, ang tanong ko po bukod sa sari sari store ano pa po pwd kung itinda para naman lumaki ang binta ko.,

  14. marie dela cruz says

    Wow….dami kong tatutunan ..,mag open kasi ako ng sari sari store next month mabut na lang at napunta ko dito….very informatives …tnx po

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