More about the sari-sari

I found this draft from a post that I thought I had sent. I will post it now.

I started this story but decided everyone there needs some background information on customs here. I do not know if it is just here or the Catholic church in general but here when a person dies they observe a 9 day period of mourning. That is 24 hours per day. The poor people have the body in the house ( which is the case now) but if the family of the dead person has money they have the corpse at the funeral home. Either way at least someone from the family is with the body full time and visitors are welcomed.  Also for the 9 days just before Christmas they observe what to me is a strange custom. They wake up very very early and go to the Catholic church for a 4 AM mass.

I read in the paper last week that there is a surge of births every year in September and someone suggested it is because it is too late in the night to go back to bed after the 4 AM mass but too early to go to work. They need SOMETHING to do.

Since I worked 3rd shift for about 18 years I find it very easy to revert to being awake at night and sleeping during the daytime even though when I worked at GM I had a terrible time trying to stay awake at night. Anyway it is now 3:45 AM and I am sitting in the store. I have found that the best days we have are when something happens in the neighborhood, birthdays are especially good. We have been open 24 hours a day since about Dec. 20th and most nights have been very slow after about 2 AM. Tonight has been very busy since about 1:30 AM. I would have no idea why except my gf was talking to some of our customers who are sitting on the street side or our window drinking beer. They are not usual customers so she asked why they are here so late at night.  She was told that a woman from the neighborhood died and tonight is the last night of mourning for her. I asked where have all these guys with money been for the last 8 nights but they were busy at work.

We have been grossing on average about 4,000 pesos per day since we started staying open 24 hours but since 1:30 AM we have grossed about 1,500.  Overall I am guessing we net about 10% from the store. Some things like cigarettes, beer and alcohol have a high mark-up but most of the food and snacks are low profit items.   Most people here use pre-paid load for their cell phones (us included) because the post paid plans they offer here are over priced. She sells load but the profit margin is very low. We charge 2 pesos per transaction plus the loading company gives a discount for the load we sell of about 2%. Most people buy about 15 pesos worth of load at a time but one guy tonight spent 450 pesos in 3 transactions so we made almost nothing on that.

We have gone though a lot of cigarettes today. I noticed one of the girls selling one whole pack but as far as I know all the rest (somewhere around 12-15 packs) were sold a few cigarettes at a time.

Most of the beer we sell is in one liter bottles but tonight one group wanted to buy 2 cases of San Mig Light beer and that only comes in small bottles. We only had one case plus 8 bottles. I tried to buy 2 cases of it early in the week but the whole seller   was out. It is not uncommon for him to be out of stock of one thing or another but I try to have enough inventory of my own to see us through until he gets resupplied. Usually that is the same day or the same week. I know he gets 2 big truck loads of pop from Coke EVERYDAY. I am not sure how much beer he sells but we sell more Red Horse beer than everything else combined.

We have one  beverage chiller and two full sized refrigerators just for the store. Every once in awhile we have a hard time keeping up with demand on the beer because we try to chill a few of everything we sell like Coke in 1 liter glass bottles, Coke in 6 ounce bottles, Coke in 10 ounce plastic bottles, Pepsi in 750 ml glass bottles, well you get the point.  Getting ready for new years eve we emptied two shelves of the refrigerator we use for our household and put an extra 26 one liter bottles of beer in. We also have a chest type deep freeze that we use just for ice.

Most people here have electricity but I am guessing maybe 2-6% do not. That is purely a guess. I do know  that very few poor people ( about 80% of the people who live near us but outside our subdivision) do not have a refrigerator. From what I can tell almost no one drinks tap water here, they (like us ) buy and drink water that has been purified. We sell water that we buy in 5 gallon plastic bottles but we sell it a few ounces at a time in small cylinder shaped plastic bags. A 5 gallon water bottle costs P10 to refill if you refill at least 10 at a time, 15 if you fill 1-9. I had 20 bottles before the last flood but now I only have about 16. We mount the bottles on a dispenser that dispenses cold water or VERY hot water. The bags she sells the water in only hold about 1/2 a cup but she charges p1 for it. If someone brings a 20 ounce bottle to be refilled she charges P5 but of course we have to pay for the electric to chill or heat the water. I also have to take the empty bottles to a refill station (there are hundreds of them in the city) then carry those damn heavy bottles back inside our wall. She sells a 5 gallon bottle about every 2-3 days.

She also sells something like ramon noodles and will prepare them for an extra fee but I am not sure how much. Some of them only need hot water but some of them have to be boiled for about 10 minutes.

One thing she tried doing that was a money loser was selling grilled food  She bought chicken feet, chicken intestines, gizzards, livers, and I am not even sure what else. She had to buy a cheap sheet metal grill ($5) charcoal made from coconut shells ( she said the charcoal made from wood goes out too easily) as well as the spices and whatever she used to make the marinating sauce. I am not sure how much she spent, maybe $100 total. She cooked for a total of about 6 days and grossed about $50 for her efforts. I will admit she and the kids ate some of it every night and I ate a few gizzards, hearts and livers ( no chicken feet or intestines for me thank you) but she still lost money on it. I will agree it was worth a try though.

More about those chicken feet and chicken intestines. She does a lot of work to prepare the feet. She started by skinning them then used a cleaver to cut the toe nails off and a knife to cut the pads off the bottom of the feet. The feet were then put on a very skinny wood skewer. The intestines were cleaned inside and out then soaked in lemon juice. I  watched her and the girls spend a lot of time putting the intestines on the skewers so they could be grilled.

If that is not detailed enough about the chicken feet and intestines just let me know and I will take a video of them being prepared and eaten.  lol


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