I am currently looking for a few good men, or ladies!
The LiP Web Magazine is almost 12 years old now. We will be celebrating that anniversary in just a few months. When I first started out the website, I was the only writer. Later, I was joined by my wife, Feyma. Soon, many new writers joined us, and the site picked up a lot of new voices, different opinions, etc.
There are a few changes coming down the pipeline soon. You will find out about one of those changes tomorrow. Nothing earth shattering, but, it means that as I said earlier, I am looking for a few good men, or ladies! What do I mean? I want to pick up at least a couple of new writers for the website.
Do you live in the Philippines? Do you want to live in the Philippines? Maybe you are Filipino and feel that you can add to the discussion and help foreigners who live here in learning new things about the Philippines. If you fit any of these categories, and you like to write articles, you might fit in great!
If you are interested in joining us here on LiP, why not send me an email through our contact form? I would be very happy to hear from you, and will get back to you right away.
If you have a website about the Philippines already, joining us here may help you draw traffic to your own website. LiP is probably the largest, and most widely read ex-pat website in the Philippines. Because of that, we get a lot of traffic, if you write articles here, it could bring many new people over to your website.
If you’re interested, just contact me. I would certainly be happy to hear from you.
The other day I was at SM City here in Davao and saw something that got me thinking. It was not something new, something I had seen before in other places, but it sparked a thought in my mind.
I was walking around the mall and saw that there was a new (to me) business on the second floor. It was an S&R food-service place.
S&R is kind of the Philippine equivalent of Costco. They have been operating in the Philippines for years and opened a store in Davao City around five years ago. Many years ago, Costco had a partial ownership in S&R, but they sold off their percentage a long time ago, and as far as I know, it is now a fully own Filipino company. They still have an association with Costco, in that they carry the same merchandise, even the Costco private label, Kirkland Signature products are available at S&R.
Well, in addition to the product selection, the style of the stores, and such, they have another big similarity with Costco. They have a food-service area. You could buy things like pizza, churros, hot dogs (not the bright red nuclear-option hot dogs), hamburgers, basically the same food menu that Costco has in the United States. Frankly, the first time that I walked into an S&R store, I felt like I was stepping back in time and had entered a Costco store in the United States. I say stepping back in time because it had been so many years since I had been at a Costco store.
Well, about a year and a half ago, for the first time, I saw in a local mall that S&R had opened a food-service outlet at the mall. Anybody could buy, but if you had a membership, you would get a 5% discount. But, even non- S&R members could go in order food and enjoy their meal. I never thought too much about it. But, these S&R food-service outlets are now in every major mall in Davao City!
When I was in SM the other day, I was shocked at how large of an outlet they had there. One thing that did not shock me, though, was how full of customers it was. Every one of these S&R food outlets is always chock-full of customers.
It got me thinking. I’ll bet you that these food-service outlets really drive many people to sign up for a membership at S&R! Most people I talked to love the food at S&R food-service. Personally, it doesn’t excite me. Much of what they serve are things that I don’t eat anyway. But, almost everybody I talk to raves about the food there. With all of these nonmembers being able to try out I am sure that they must pick up new memberships due to that.
Back when I lived in the states, Costco was not doing anything like this at all. I did some web searching this morning, and could not find any information on the Internet about Costco doing this either. For readers, perhaps you can fill me in, does Costco have their food-service outlets in non-Costco locations? If not, I feel that this would be an avenue of great growth for them. Interesting that a Filipino company would (I suppose) come up with this fantastic idea to grow the business. Even if they are not picking up a ton of new memberships, the volume of business at they are doing in these food outlets is huge. I have talked to other ex-pats around the Philippines, and S&R seems to have these type of outlets all around the country now.
Anyway, as is something a little different, something that I do not believe membership stores have outside the Philippines. If you know differently, please let me know. As I thought about this, I just felt that it was a fantastic idea, sort of outside the box as well.
No MaidOne of the choices we made in downsizing is that we would no longer have a maid. For the past 18 years, we have pretty much always had a maid to help out around the house. There have been a few gaps when one made quit and we were still searching for a new person to replace her. But, those were only short times. Now, unless we have a major change of heart, we simply will not have a maid at all. So far, I feel that it is working out fine. We have a much smaller house, so there are fewer chores to do, and all of us are pitching in to do our fair share. That includes me. In the past, I guess I kind of had a life of luxury, where I basically didn’t have to do anything as far as household chores. Of course, when we lived in the United States, I certainly did my fair share, but here in the Philippines having a maid meant that I mostly just had to concentrate on my work duties and living life. In many ways, having a maid creates problems. Trying to teach her to do things the proper way is always a hassle. We have had incidents where maids stole from us or created other problems in the house as well. So, this move keeps the drama level down as well. When we decided to move to the Philippines, one of the things that we look forward to was having a maid to help take care of chores around the house. Of course, at that time we had small children, ages eight, four, and less than one-year-old. Now, our kids are more or less grown up. That cuts down the workload a lot. In most ways, over the years, having a maid was a good thing, and it rarely created problems (although, as I pointed out, it did from time to time). Feyma and I are at the stage in our life, though, that we just don’t feel we need a maid any longer. For half of the year when there will be only three people living in the house, all the more, we will not need a maid. Yesterday, I turned 56 years old, so, transitioning to a different phase of life is kind of normal at this age. In fact, this new stage of life is something I’m looking forward to, being able to spend more alone time with my wife, and such.
Everything you might want to buy is cheaper in the Philippines, right? Well, I’m sorry to inform you, but it just ain’t so. Indeed, many things are cheaper here, but the truth is, many things are much more expensive here than in your home country, you can bet on that.
For the most part, the things are quite expensive here are imported products. If there is something that must be imported from the west, such as the United States, you can bet, it’s going to be significantly more expensive here than it is there.
Last year, when Feyma went to the United States to work in Alaska, she shipped a number of Balikbayan boxes home, to the Philippines, with staples, items that we use on a regular basis. On some items, it was all about price. These are items where we use the same brand here in the Philippines as we use to use in the United States. Imported products, American products, which are imported here to the Philippines. I’ll get into some examples of that shortly. In other cases, she purchased better quality merchandise than what we can get here in the Philippines. Cases where we use Filipino brands of items, but for a similar price, we can get much higher quality American-made products. Or, products that were made to be imported into the United States.
How much savings?
I use Gillette Mach 3 razors. I have a nice metal handle, on which I can put Mach 3 blades. I feel they are good quality, and they are available here in the Philippines, but at a high price. Because of the high price, I do my best to maintain their quality, keeping them clean and dry, etc. so that they will last longer. When I go to buy new razor blades the price is P350 for two blades. That is around US$7 for two razor blades. Outrageous. Additionally, the peso has been sliding in value in recent months, and you can be sure that the price of these imported razor blades is going to increase soon. In November, before Feyma came home to the Philippines, she took a trip to Costco. She saw some Gillette Mach 3 razors. These were razors which included the handle, the blade, and also a can of shaving gel. In each pack, you got 14 razors for a price of $14.99. That makes the cost $1.07 per razor. Buying just the blades alone in the Philippines would cost you 2450 pesos, a whopping $49. Feyma bought several of these packs of razors, for me to use in the coming year. What huge savings. In addition to the savings, over the years, I’ve come to realize that the Gillette razor blades being sold in the Philippines are not of the same quality as the ones sold in the United States. Much lower price, much higher quality. Hard to beat that combination.
Another example, and sticking with Gillette, I use Gillette deodorant. This deodorant is 200 pesos per container here in the Philippines, $4. Also, on her trip to Costco, Feyma purchased some of the same Gillette deodorant. She purchased packages contain six containers of the deodorant, at a cost of $9.99 per package. $1.67 per container of deodorant. That’s 83 pesos, compared to 200 pesos, which will be increasing because of the sliding value of the peso.
A lot of times, buying something because it’s cheap is not a good value. In one case you may be buying an inferior product, or in another case, you may be buying things you don’t really need, just because they are cheap. But, it in the cases I have pointed out, these are products that we use on a daily basis, and she was just able to get them at a much lower price for the same items. You can’t really go wrong on this.
Not always cheaper in the Philippines
So, as you can see, things are not always cheaper in the Philippines. As I said at the outset, many things are much cheaper here, but not everything.
For the coming years, Feyma will be going back and forth between the Philippines in the United States regularly. This really gives an opportunity to get the cost savings from each country. By things in the United States when they’re cheaper there, by things in the Philippines when they are cheaper here. It’s a no lose situation.
Arbitrage for business
Basically, this kind of practice can be called arbitrage. Take advantage of things in one country when they are cheap, and sell them at a higher price in the other country where there expensive. One of my sons already has a plan to do this for business. He will also be going to Alaska for the coming years to work there part of the year. He can make very good money there, then come back and live cheaply in the Philippines. This particular son is into sports, sports apparel, and that sort of thing. He has a plan to buy sports items, sports shoes, and other such things in the United States. He will then sell those items here in the Philippines. Some of this kind of stuff will sell for three or four times the US amount here in the Philippines. If he sells it for just double or triple, it still offers savings to people here, and it also offers big profits to him. There are so many possibilities.
Anyway, I just thought I would share this with readers, it might be interesting to some.
But remember, it’s not always cheaper in the Philippines.