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MANILA, Philippines — What’s 50 centavos (US$0.01) worth? That‘s the back-to-school question of the year.
For Sam Ferrer, a vendor in Divisoria, 50 centavos is their standard mark up for the notebooks they sell. Fifty centavos may not be worth much, but even on a bad day, they can earn as much as P20,000 (US$457.36). Although they sell other school supplies and bags, their notebooks, priced between P7-P9, remain their best seller.
Sam says, on the average, they earn between P30,000 (US$686) to P40,000 (US$914) a day.
For Ruel Cabilin, who works as a regular employee at a warehouse, 50 centavos is worth the haggle. He sends two children to school and buys them about 8-10 notebooks each. It may not seem much, but for a typical wage earner, saving 50 centavos per notebook may mean a lot.
In fact, with these back-to-school expenses, Ruel says, they already need to tighten the belt on their household budget.
The Ferrers are long-time vendors in Divisoria. For over two decades, they have been selling fruits here. Although this is their first time to sell school supplies, business is brisk.
On the other hand, the Cabilins have always shopped for school supplies in Divisoria since their eldest daughter began schooling 6 years ago. But this is the first time they went on a last-minute, back-to-school shopping. Ruel confessed he had to wait for his month-end salary to be able to buy school supplies for his children.
This weekend, Sam expects more people to come to Divisoria and hopes sales will continue to pick up as the first day of classes, at least for public schools, begins on Monday, June 2.
It’s this weekend’s rush that Ruel is avoiding, which is why he, together with his wife and youngest daughter, went to Divisoria in the evening, right after work, braving the rain, to shop for school supplies.
Divisoria is known as a bargain paradise for local shoppers, whatever the season. Almost everything you need for school, from pencils and crayons, to uniforms and bags, is sold here at low, low prices.
It’s the market place where the aggregate sales of a 50-centavo-mark up on notebooks may translate to unbelievable profit for the seller, where the cumulative effect of a 50 centavo-haggle may potentially become great savings for the buyer.