Jagna is referring to a large area, including a town and some nearby villages. For food and necessities purchasing, the nearby villagers always go to the town.
The view of Jagna town center
In the center of the town, there is a two-story large market, which is called “the market” by the locals. In the market, there are many small shops selling food and rice, as well as cheap necessities. Although I have only been here for three days, I have already visited the market at least three to four times, which means at least once a day. In the first day, I go to the market with my host family to purchase food and necessities. The second and third day I went there to visit the business that I’m responsible for. In these days, I have noticed different characters in each day’s visit. Some of them are interesting and unique for small and closed economies. And I will share some of them with you in the following paragraphs.
1) Purchase done within acquaintances
The first day I went to the market, I found out that my host family chatted a lot with the grocery store owner and she told me that they had known each other for a long time. During my visit to the business, the owner, Ruthcelyn, also told me that most of her customers are her relatives and friends, and few of them are new comers or strangers. Therefore, I start to notice that people value interpersonal relationship very much in choosing the store that they do their shopping in. People here choose to shop in the store that they are familiar with, and such purchase is stable, and can even last for years.
Acquaintances purchasing: Ruthcelyn is selling feeds to a friend of hers
2) Many sellers for primary goods
Since my target business is a shop selling rice and feeds, I pay extra attention to its competitors and I was astonished by their amount—there are more than twenty other shops selling exactly the same kind of goods , which is about half of the market! And when I go farther to the market for fish and fruit, the situation is similar—for each kind of goods, there are at least two or three sellers. Theses sellers purchase their goods from almost the same supplier, and sell it for similar prices. Theses sellers would sometimes adjust the price according to the price set by the competitor, and learn some business running skills from each other.
Our target business—Marcela Colita Rice and Pig Food
Some of the competitors who are also selling rice and feeds
3) Rather closed economy with rare advertisement
In the Jagna market, I can seldom see advertisement. I deduct that it is because of the closeness of its economy. Consumers who buy goods in the market is the villagers nearby. They grow up in Jagna and is very familiar with the shops and their goods. Therefore, the advertisement might be made by interpersonal networking. Although new shops may need advertisement. However, as far as I’ve noticed, there are rarely new shops here. Most shops have been run for years. And when I ask Ruthcelyn about her opinion of doing advertisement like putting a sign saying that certain kind of goods is in sale, she acted a little bit shyly and said that seems to be a “crazy thing” and “nobody here will do this kind of thing”. When I look around, I indeed cannot find any advertisement for own business, only some simple advertisement for certain kind of good, which is obviously obtained from the suppliers. Therefore, my partner and I decide to cancel our original idea of setting up an advertisement board, and seek for another mild way to do advertisement.
The only kind of advertisement found in the market.
4) Family business
A lot of business here is owned and run by family. In most cases, the business is in charged by certain member in the family and other members in this family may also help with this business. After years, this business might be passed down to another member in the family. And the profit division is not always clear, because mostly theses family members live together. As for the instance, the owner of my target business, Ruthcelyn, handed over the rice and pig food shop from her auntie, Colita. When I am talking with my friends, I get to know that their business, which is a tinshop, is also run by a family. Moreover, when I went boating in the first weekend I arrived, my host mother told me that the owners of these boats are cousins. Therefore, I got a deep impression on the family running business here.
A typical family business: The father is selling and the son is helping him
In all, the business pattern here is largely affected by the small and closed economy. And I think the reason why the economy is so small and closed is to a large extent due to the rather isolated location—Jagna is located in the island and far from the center city—Tagbilaran. Therefore, the size of business is rather small and people value relationship in doing business very much.
The street view of Jagna town
Another interesting thing I’ve noticed in this short period is that when people are doing business, they are not very eager to make big money. In fact, they treat doing business as a part of living, and their target is seemingly to be making a living while enjoying this procedure. “I know this is not good enough, but it’s not bad, and that’s enough”, responded by Ruthcelyn when I and my partner told her that changing her placement of goods may make her shop neater and bring in more money. Also thinking of our rejected advice on advertisement broad, I suddenly notice that our business plan should not be a disruption to their ordinary style of living and working. We need to seek for a balance between the improvement of business and the affection to the business owners’ daily life. And I think in future, I will pay more attention to the opinion of the business owner and adjust my business plan according to their feedback.