How Pinay sari-sari store owner became a millionaire

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Nov 15 2014 10:11 AM | Updated as of Nov 17 2014 05:08 PM

MANILA – From the start, former sari-sari store owner Merly Plan knew the simple formula for success.

Plan didn’t have a business background, but what she lacked in education, she made up for in street smarts and determination.

Born and raised in Cagayan, Plan moved to Manila to pursue her dreams of making it big in the city and to build a family.

She began her journey as a tailor in a factory, and married soon after.

When Plan became pregnant, she was forced to face it alone as her husband worked overseas.

It was then that Plan did not only feel alone, she also felt helpless because of financial trouble.

“Walang kuryente, nakikikabit lang ako. Tapos wala akong pera, nanghihiram pa ako ng P50. Tapos mamaya panay ang singil, sabi ko mahirap pala ang walang pera,” she said on “My Puhunan.”

Grocery-owner Merly Plan. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page

With a capital of only P1,000, she opened a small sari-sari store, acting both as the business owner and vendor. The money she made from daily sales was used to fund her pregnancy.

But complications in her pregnancy made all her hard work useless.

“’Pag labas hindi na siya humihinga, hindi ko malaman paano ko sasabihin sa asawa ko na nasa ibang bansa. Hanggang sa malaman niya sa mga kamag-anak niya, kaya umuwi agad. Hindi niya ako binabati, sinisisi niya ako bakit hindi ko daw iningatan. Ang sabi ko ako ang nag-dala, bakit ko naman hindi iingatan? Eh first baby natin,” Plan said.

Plan and her husband eventually accepted their fate, and tried to make another baby.

Things took a turn for the better when they were blessed with a baby boy, and their grocery business continued to grow.

Plan said the growth came when she implemented a 20 percent markup on all the products that she was selling.

“May naka-fix na tubo, ang mark-up ay 20 percent. Halimbawa, bibilin ko ng P4, 20 percent kaagad ang patong,” she said.

Grocery-owner Merly Plan. Photo from My Puhunan Facebook page

Correct pricing boosted sales of Plan’s little grocery, and the business began earning millions of pesos.

Despite their success, Plan and her husband were no longer blessed with another child. They decided to adopt a baby girl, but a freak incident in 2005 led to her death.

Plan said their adopted child was only 2 years old then when she was dropped three floors down by the nanny’s husband.

“Hindi ko kaya noon, akala ko susunod na din ako. Humingi ako ng tawad, hagulgol ako. Sabi ko, ‘Anak, kung nasa tabi mo lang ako hindi mangyayari ‘yan,” she said.

Plan had lost two children, but she is still blessed and found inspiration from her only son. From operating a small home-based sari-sari store, Plan now runs a three-storey grocery.