By Anna Valmero
OLONGAPO CITY, ZAMBALES— Long before air-conditioned malls dominated urban centers in the country, a merchandise shop has been a haven for bargain hunters in Zambales.
Laluces General Merchandise, one of the famous stops for bargain hunters here in New Cabalan, started out some 33 years ago with a capital of just 900 pesos, said store co-owner Christina Laluces.
“My parents, Gary and Emy Laluces, started selling second-hand goods. They sold second-hand silverware, plates, drums and even power tools discarded at the US Naval Base,” said Christina.
Gary, who was a mechanic, started tinkering and repairing power tools and generators to resell them to bargain hunters. What started as a small stall grew into two stores that have a combined capital of around 100,000 pesos.
Today, some companies consign their brand-new items at the shop owing to its popularity among locals. They also get their items from Japanese suppliers.
Christina noted that sales have declined over the last ten years as customers frequent malls that likewise sell cheap goods, instead of bargain shops like theirs.
“Overall, business was better in previous years but I’d say we are doing good today,” said Christina.
Customers who buy in bulk include big businesses in Olongapo City, at the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, those from Pampanga and some from the Visayas. Walk-in customers usually include tourists who flock there to see the surplus market and buy a handful of items.
Compared to leading department stores like SM, the shop sells novelty items at 25 percent off. For example, a ceramic display that usually costs 1,000 pesos in malls is sold by a few hundred pesos with additional discount for bulk orders, said Christina.
A patron of bargain finds herself, Christina said that buying second-hand goods also means “green shopping” because it prolongs the use of items so they do not end up in landfills immediately.
“I hope our street gets promotion and advertising support from the local government as a source of cheap but quality second-hand items. Now that prices for goods continue to rise, I hope more and more Filipinos will see value in bargain shopping,” said Christina.
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