At first glance, setting up a sari sari store is just as easy as buying from the grocery and start selling, right?

NO…

Setting up a sari sari store is a much more complicated business than just doing that.

It involves a lot of elements that medium to large companies use.

So, if you’re planning to start a sari sari store business, you’ve come to the right place!

Whether you start with a small budget to start or a mini-grocery, here are the 15 things you need to start a sari sari store business!

Stick around till the end because you don’t want to miss the top tips that most store owners don’t know!

1. Capital

Philippine peso money

The first thing you need when starting a sari sari store is money. You can get it from your own pocket or by getting a loan from banks or your relatives.

Either way, you need money. But just how much capital do you need to start a profitable sari sari store?

This depends on your capacity.

But for first time business owners, it’s recommended to just start small and test the waters first. As with any business, you don’t want to over-extend your reach to the point that you can’t get it back.

What this means is that you need to assess the risks first before investing in a business. A lot of store owners started with just a few thousand pesos but eventually grew them into a successful store!

If you want to earn some money while at home so you can acquire some capital, why not try online freelancing? Since you’re just at home, you can work and earn money with just a computer/laptop and internet connection!

Read this if you’re interested: 7 Steps to Start Working at Home in the Philippines

2. Location

The next most important thing or arguably the most important one is the location.

You can’t set up a store in the middle of a field and expect your business to be booming, right?

Unless of course, your customers are birds.

But on a serious note, your location usually will make or break your business.

Ideally, you need to run your store in locations where there are many people such as:

  • Highways/Main roads
  • Plazas
  • Parks
  • Near terminals
  • And more!

If these locations aren’t available to you, you may set up your sari sari store even in a small street.

Just make sure that you’re not near another store. This will ensure that you’ll get all the customers to yourself!

3. Suppliers

It might be more convenient to just buy your goods from the groceries at first.

However, if you want to survive longer – buy straight from suppliers.

As you know, buying from suppliers will allow you to save more money so you can provide the lowest prices!

Establish good terms with your suppliers and you may even secure a credit line, discounts and more!

4. Pricing

Another important thing to consider is the prices of your products.

It might be tempting to sell them at low prices at first. But that’s not a good idea if you have a lot of competition around the area.

Do a research and keep note of their prices. This should give you an idea on what to price your products.

But if you don’t have a lot or any competitors at all, you may sell your goods at a higher price than usual.

5. Business Plan

Don’t worry, this may sound complex but it isn’t.

This is usually created by medium to large businesses when starting out.

Most sari sari stores don’t have a plan at all. This is one of the reasons why they fail.

To truly establish your store on a good foot, you need a plan.

A business plan for a sari sari store could just include these simple things:

  • A summary of what your business is all about (name, location, goods etc.)
  • Your marketing strategies
  • Some things to keep in mind

Ideally, you just need this to have a direction for your business.

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

6. Storekeeper

Having someone who will manage your sari sari store business is crucial.

You don’t want to delegate this task to someone you don’t trust.

If you don’t have time to do it yourself, you can ask your family, friends or relatives to do it.

Just make sure that they’re well-compensated and they’re doing their job well.

If they’re inexperienced, you need to teach them the basics at the very least.

For instance, they need to have basic math knowledge which will help them to serve customers faster.

This will also ensure that your business will not go bankrupt.

7. Products you’ll sell

sari sari store business products

If you’re starting with a limited budget, you should consider selling basic needs first.

This includes goods such as:

  • Shampoos
  • Soap
  • Vinegar and Soy Sauce
  • Condiments
  • Biscuits
  • Milk
  • Laundry powder

Of course, the basic needs you’ll sell depends on where your store is located.

If it’s near a hospital, you may need to sell some diapers, first-aid kits and more.

But if it’s in a regular neighborhood, then you can sell the common necessities that we need.

8. Design

Your sari sari store design is also crucial in establishing your business.

You need to categorize your goods accordingly and set a space dedicated to each of them.

This will ensure that your customers can see the products easily.

It will also allow your storekeeper to easily navigate through the goods to better serve the customers.

That’s why it’s a good idea to plan the design of the space and to maintain the organization and cleanliness of it.

9. Marketing

A sari sari store is still a business no matter how small.

As with every business, you need to exert some effort into marketing it.

This means that you can put up banners or tarpaulins around your area.

Or you can go the classic route of the word of mouth.

Advertise your store through your neighbors, friends and relatives!

10. Business Permits

A lot of sari sari store businesses don’t register their business in BIR or DTI.

Some say it’s a hard work or it’s just another expense that will eat up their small income.

But that’s not exactly the case!

BIR tax-exempts minimum income earners. But you still need to register for TIN and to file annual tax returns.

Because if your sari sari store business is registered, you can enjoy a lot of advantages.

One is that suppliers and other entities will see your store as a legit business. This allows you to secure a more advantageous place and you can get discounts.

You can also access other government support that will allow you to grow your business!

11. Accounting  

Don’t be intimidated by this word!

This can be as simple as just taking note of your revenue and expense.

Ideally, you should have a ledger in a notebook to list out all of your inventory, profits and expenses.

But if you’re comfortable around a computer, you can use spreadsheets to do computations much faster.

This will also allow you to easily access and save your files unlike notebooks where you can misplace it.

12. Offer Additional Products (Load, School Supplies etc.)

Aside from goods, your sari sari store business can profit from additional products.

This can include:

  • Load
  • School supplies
  • First-aid kits
  • Medicines (Non-subscriptions)
  • Ice candies and other desserts

Look for items that a lot of customers are looking for that you don’t already have.

Or you can create your own products that you can test out in your store!

Related: How to Earn Money in GCash (Ultimate Guide!)

13. Offer seats and shade

Sari sari store with people outside

A lot of sari sari stores don’t know that having seats and shade can indirectly increase profit!

There are a lot of people that look for temporary resting places and what could be more convenient than your store?

This way, you can sell them refreshments and other goods that they may be interested in.

It doesn’t even need to be a wide area, just a simple chair and a shade will do in most cases.

Just make sure that your customers won’t sit in there forever because it could irritate your other customers.

14. Self-control

Before starting a sari sari store business, you need to warn your self and your family first.

Treat your store as a business and not as your own stockpile of goods.

To do this, separate your own grocery from your store’s goods.

And makes sure that you don’t get food from your sari sari store every so often.

If you’re the storekeeper, control the urge to eat your own stocks! You should always go to your store after eating so that you won’t be tempted.  

13 Tips to Manage A Successful Sari Sari Store

Plenty of Filipino households have a sari sari store. In fact, almost every street nowadays has at least one!

But why are there so many sari sari stores closing down? Is it because of low customers or others?

Whatever the reason is, you need to know these secret tips that only the highly successful sari sari store business owners know!

1. No to credits

“Palista nalang muna, bayaran ko sa katapusan.” These are the common phrase we use or hear all the time.

But did you know that the worst mistake you can do when starting your store is to allow store credits?

Yes, it may sound like a good way to build your reputation and business early on but it will damage you in the long run. Tons of businesses not just sari sari stores have turned to ruins because of this.

But if you’re still not convinced, here are the reasons why you shouldn’t allow this:

  • Debts are hard to collect.
  • You won’t have sufficient cash flow for your next purchases.
  • Sometimes, customers may even hold a grudge when you collect their debts.
  • There’s something called “bad debts” where there will always be a small percentage of money that you can’t collect.

If those still don’t scare you, I don’t know what will. So, if you’re planning to start your sari sari store business soon, don’t allow credits.

2. FIFO

The First in, First Out principle is used by most businesses worldwide. But in small businesses such as sari sari stores, this isn’t common knowledge.

There are still some who don’t know this principle which allows them to lose money every week!

So, what exactly is this? How does it work?

It’s as simple as it sounds. This only means that you should sell the goods as you buy them. For instance, a customer is looking for a can of sardines. Then, you need to sell the inventory that is the oldest first.

Following this will ensure that your products will stay fresh and you won’t have any losses due to expired food.

3. Customer’s buying habits

Here’s another tip, if customers are looking for something but you don’t sell them, just say “It’s out of stock” instead of saying “we don’t sell it”.

Then, list down the item that they’re always looking for so you can buy it next time. This will ensure that you can better serve your customers and that they won’t look for another store.

This is something I observed that not a lot of sari sari stores in our area don’t implement this trick.

They would simply say that they don’t have those products which forced me to look for it in other stores. Even after some time, they still didn’t include the product in their store.

4. Start low

It’s easy to get excited especially if this is your first business. But it’s important to understand that you can start even with just hundreds in your pocket!

In fact, it’s recommended to do so in order to test your market first. Even if you don’t have a physical store at first, you can start by setting up something at the front of your house and going on from there.

Lots of people started this way and now they’ve grown their businesses to new heights.

5. Maintain the quality of your goods

Another thing to keep in mind is the quality of your products.

A sari sari store business isn’t a passive income business where you just leave it expecting it to earn in itself.

This is a business so you should treat it as such. This means keeping everything in top-notch quality. If you see some of your products that have gone bad, don’t try to sell them to your customers!

Also, this means keeping everything clean. I remember buying a canned product from a store which had dust all over it. Although it wasn’t expired, it’s still an indication that the storeowner doesn’t clean the store. This alone turned me off so imagine what it will do to your customers.  

6. Re-invest and Save your profits

For a lot of Filipinos, their sari sari stores are their first business that they venture into. Because of this, it becomes easy to adopt a mentality where you should reward yourself.

Buying things for yourself from your profits isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I encourage you to do so every so often. But if you’re just starting out, you need to re-invest your earnings into your business.

This might mean:

  • Buying more goods
  • Expanding your store
  • Hiring a storekeeper

Aside from that, you should also keep a portion of your earnings as savings. This will allow you to survive on days where you are closed or are having losses.

7. Be friendly

It may not look like it, but your sari sari store is a business. Therefore, you need to treat it as such.

This means that you should not only establish your business as a means to sell products. Businesses are about serving your customers.

Greet, smile and talk to your customers as much as you can. You won’t notice but doing so will have a positive impact to your customers.

If you’re not the storekeeper, you should train them to be friendly. It doesn’t cost anything but it gives back so much!

I remember buying from a sari sari store nearby and the lady was so slow to assist me. She even ignored me and scrolled for about 30 seconds on her phone before noticing me. Needless to say, I complained about this to my family and they now know.

As you can see, bad experiences like these spread like wildfire especially in a small neighborhood.

Another thing you can do to provide exceptional customer service is by providing doorbells or service bells. Just by the cheap but quality ones you can find around.

And trust me when I say that your customers will thank you for this!

8. Offer promos

Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to offer promos once in a while. This would even encourage your customers to buy more and spread the good news!

You can offer something like free P30 load for every 1 tray of egg purchased or others.

Whatever it is, be sure that you won’t be losing out on money. On the other hand, you also have to make sure that your customers will see the incentive enough that they will avail of the promo.

9. Scale

When your sari sari store business starts to earn more, you should consider scaling.

What I mean by this is expanding. You can try to physically expand your store to accommodate more goods.

Or you can set up a branch of your store somewhere else. But you need to take note of the location and the number of people that can be your potential customers.

But overall, you need to put up your store with the objective of scaling as you earn more. This will ensure that your business stays relevant.

10. Offer Tingi Tingi

Sari sari store started as a means for Filipinos to buy things in “tingi tingi”.

This means that they like to buy cooking oil in plastics and sold in P5, P10, or more. There are plenty of other items that you can offer in small packs. You just need to listen to the requests of your customers and you’ll get a good idea of what those are!

11. Get only 10% of profits for the day

Most sari sari store business owners just get a certain amount of the revenue they get per day.

For instance, they get a P400 sales one day and then they get P100 from that revenue. This may look fine at first glance but this is already 25% of the total profit you got on that day!  

What if you don’t have a lot of sales on a certain day, would it still be profitable to get P100?

What you should do instead is just get a certain percentage of your total sales for the day as your profit say 10%. So, if you earned P400 in a day, you should only get P40.

Doing so will allow you to have a steady flow of cash which will ensure the profitability of your business.

12. Seasonal Items

Another good thing to keep in mind as a store owner are seasonal products.

For example, when it’s summer, it’s a good idea to have a lot of soft drinks, ice, and other beverages you can sell. This will allow you to supply the huge demand for these products because they’re in “season”.

13. Offer deposits

Lastly, you should also put deposits on bottles. This is because those bottles cost you money!

Often times, customers would be too lazy to bring back their bottles to stores. So to combat this, you need to give them something in return such as some coin incentives.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, I hope these tips can help you start your own sari sari store business.

It may be a long road but as long as you keep in mind these things, your business will surely prosper!

How about you, do you own a sari sari store or are planning to? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you!

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Jerico Saquing

Jerico Saquing

Jerico is the founder of Peso Hacks. He's also a freelance writer who specializes in topics related to finance, travel and games. In his spare time, he likes to watch anime, play mobile games and read books.

2 Comments

  • Ana Jun says:

    Hi, good day. I just scrolled up then I found you’re content. I empress the thought you’ve posted. I agree all of the reality of the words in the blog. I may not one of good talking or saying comments but I amazed from you’re economic business plan management. Hope to see more things around…happy mini sari-sari store owner.

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