Dell H. Grecia
They are everywhere- earning a decent living by selling homemade products that range from kesong puti to RTW clothes.
Vendors are everywhere- on the sidewalk, at the bus station, in subdivisions, offices, in every stoplight. They sell their wares even in the middle of the night.
In the local market or talipapa, old and young vendors swarm around prospective customers. Since they offer everything you might need, vendors could save you a trip to the congested wet market. Before you know it, you are able to complete your shopping list by patronizing the sidewalk vendors.
Again, my good friend Dr. Abe V. Rotor has something to say about vendors: “The personal service vendors offer is beyond compare. They are natural and spontaneous. Whether an old woman or child learning the trade, vendors make a class of their own.”
My friend Abe recalls that he used to accompany his aunt to the market where she sold farm produce, which in modern parlance is called “marketable surplus”. She was able to earn well from selling rice and chicken.
During milling time, they made local wine called basi, as well as vinegar. Today, we called this “processing” (agro-industry in the economic sense) and because there is an increase in the value of the commodity we call this gain, “value-added”. Since they make two, three or more different products, economists would call this “diversification”. To maintain the quality of the product, “packaging” has become imperative.
While bending is basically the art of selling, there are other factors that go with it. Many vendors actually produce their items; others process them. Others repack them into smaller units or volumes.
Examples are the housewife who prepares packed lunch meals, the broom-maker and the necklace- maker, and the fruit vendor who whips up jams and jelly.
This is economics at the grassroots.
A. Kesong Puti Vendor
One popular product sold by Laguna vendors is kesong puti or carabao’s cheese. One whole bundle costs P100. Mario, 36 years old, peddles his kesong puti in Calamba, Laguna. There are ten individual bundles wrapped in green banana leaves, which keep the white cheese inside fresh.
Cheese he sells is usually prepared that same morning- ensuring its freshness. In fact, barrio folks prefer good ole kesong puti to the commercial brands.
Traditional kesong puti vendors adhere to the same process they’ve practised through the years, in spite of the presence of the Dairy Training and Research Institute at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB).
B. Door–to-Door RTW
Also a new development are the vendors who would go house, selling ready-to-wear clothes. Should the clothes they offer not fit their customers, they offer to come back the following day with the right sizes. They’re that persistent.
Take the case of the Pauline Alintago, a 44-year-old mother of six. She teamed up with Nimfa Arbose, also 44 years old and a mother of three, for a successful RTW business.
They earn as much as P250 daily, with the regular customers – the sukis - they’ve accumulated in their rounds.