QC residents are fond of ‘ukay-ukay’ for cheap but quality finds

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By Anna Valmero

QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA— Commuters and local residents never fail to stop by along an ukay-ukay store along the busy intersection of Kamuning Street and EDSA called Iyaman Fashion House.

The ukay-ukay store is a business by Baguio-based owner Betty Balabag, who gets second-hand goods from friends in Hong Kong and Chinese suppliers. She poured in 80,000 pesos from her personal savings to buy boxes of clothes from the suppliers.

The capital outlay was relatively big because the goods that she acquired were only “slightly-used” branded clothes or brand-new factory overruns.

Upon entering the store, there are already about 15 busy customers inspecting piles of clothes, shoes, and other items that are neatly tucked in shelves and clothing racks. Despite the good as new clothes, prices are cheap. You can get a dress and a top for 100 pesos apiece or 50 pesos for a pair of pants.

There are also “Class A” baseball caps and accessories that sell for 200 pesos or below.

The sales staffs occupy different posts and are ready to assist customers about the prices and give directions to the fitting rooms. The cashier who mans the counter, also views the four surveillance cameras while observing customers.

“We installed the CCTV cameras so we can monitor customer movement because you can never tell at face value whether there is a snatcher at the store. It is always better to be safe,” said Betty.

She said her first ukay-ukay business was in Baguio City but she decided to expand in the Kamuning area in 2004 after businesses slowed down after the establishment of an SM Mall in Baguio.

After the Kamuning branch, Betty also expanded in Ortigas in Mandaluyong City, and in Lucena. Six years ago, the slow demand at the Baguio branch was compensated by sales of the Kamuning branch since there are only a handful of ukay-ukay stores in the city.

The supply of clothes and bags at the Kamuning branch is replenished every two months, while old stocks from previous deliveries are sold at discounted prices for faster sales.

Betty said the business “remains stable” although sales are relatively less than when she started. “This Christmas season sales are still not very high, maybe because we have not yet fully recovered from the recession. But I hope demand picks up especially now that dressing up in quirky costumes or dresses for parties is very in,” she noted.

Gemma Marquez, a Quezon City resident who was a first-time buyer, said she discovered the store by accident and upon seeing the piles of clothes, she and her friend bought similar tops that they intend to wear on the same day.

“Most people ang iniisip sa mga ukay-ukay na clothes, patapon na sila pero may makikita ka naman talagang maganda basta mamimili ka lang (Most people think that clothes bought from ukay-ukay stores are no good but you there are good finds if you are patient enough to find). For me, I like going through the business of it because it is a good training to be a smart shopper,” said Gemma.

Get more information about Iyaman Fashion House.

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