Before the advent of the overpriced convenience stores like the Jiffy Mart, 7-11, Quick Stop appeared in my area of Dorchester. (Part of Boston)
Back in the 1950 & 60’s we only had the corner store, ran by mom & pop “Whoever” that provided the everyday items between trips to the Stop & Shop or Elm Farm or other big grocery stores. A point for you to ponder, in your life have you ever seen a convenience store under construction, or one morning as you drove by it was just there?
This was the very reason why the Sari-sari stores made perfect sense to me when I first sailed into Subic Bay in the late 1960’s. The idea was the same as the corner stores I grew up with, except in Boston they were at the end of the street, instead of being every 50 feet on the street as they are here. I rented a house in Gordon Heights in Olongapo on Dianan Street, and was the only house without a open Sari-sari Store. There were nine houses on this dead-end street and we had eight stores, I always thought I should open the one in my front yard, but I found out that store was not included within the lease. It was P 1,500 extra. When we built our house in Bataan I saw on the blue prints a Sari-sari planed for the front of our house. Not the blueprints I had approved!
I must find away to put the kibosh on that without ruffling the feathers of my darling wife.
The Navy and now the Military Sealift Command paid me to solve problems. So I asked her if I didn’t make enough money to support our family. My wife told me of course I do, so honey when I retire will my wonderful wife spend her day in the store and not going out to lunch with me?
During retirement will I have to sit and hear “Knock-Knock” all-day while my wife must run out to the store and sell a 50 centavo piece of candy to those cute kids in the neighborhood? Problem solved! She cancelled the proposed Sari-sari in front of our house.
And one more problem disappeared six months later as I tore out the guts of our doorbell that those cute kids loved to run by and push the button on. 17 years later I smile when a visitor tries ringing the bell, and then knocks on the gate. But the new group of kids still thinks it works and they get great pleasure out of pushing the button.
Also I’ve noted that the lifespan of a Sari-sari is short, mainly because of the utang (Loans), there are two types, the Indian guy (From Asia not the Americas that the Europeans misnamed in 1492) the one on the motorcycle with a turban as a helmet lending to the store owner on the 5-6 program. (Every 5 peso you borrow you pay back six peso) But the Turbaned guy never wants the principle only the interest. In Boston they worked for the Irish mob and were called loan sharks. In the Philippines they don’t break legs to collect. Much more civilized! It is called “Pautang Five-Six”, Google it if you would like to learn more.
Then there is the utang given to customers, who seldom pay the store back, and when the store cuts them off for non-payment they move up 50 feet to the next store and start borrowing anew.
The last thing on the inevitable road to bankruptcy is the store owner’s family, who will use the story as their own pantry and just take what they want without paying and it closes the store very fast for that family.
A few weeks later the store will open once more under new management and the cycle will begin once again.
When I owned my bars in Puerto Rico, if I bought a customer a drink, every employee saw me reach into my pocket and pay for it.
My drinks, I never drank in my own bar! If a customer wanted to buy me a drink, I would take them a couple of doors down to a kiosk open style bar and explain I didn’t drink in my bar.
As for a customer wanting a TAB, I’d smile and tell the customer that I didn’t want to lose their friendship, in case their tab got so high they were ashamed that that they couldn’t pay it and stopped coming around!
The truth: As I’d be thinking to myself,
You got all dressed up to come to my Night Club with that beautiful girl and didn’t bring any money??? (He’ll be home sleeping with his wife in a few hours!)