By: Si Eun Lee
After hours of flight and bus ride, we finally arrived in the little village in Bohol. It has been almost a week since we have arrived here and up until now, I have been enjoying every little moment of exploring this foreign land.
On Monday, my partner Zoya and I visited Lorenza RTW, a used clothes store where we were assigned to work at. Unfortunately, the owner of the shop had been busy with her work in another store and thus could not talk to us. To obtain as much information as we can without being in contact with the owner, we made observations of how the clothes are arranged and talked to other workers in the shop. The clothes were simply piled up into big categories of: female, male, kids, jeans, and hats. Yet, some clothes were mixed in categories they did not belong in as customers placed them anywhere after digging through piles of clothes and throwing them elsewhere. Some clothes were even stained while some were brand new with tags still attached. We noticed that none of the clothes were priced and the account book of the shop showed that the workers simply called the price for each clothes as they see fit when customers brought them to the counter. Although such method definitely reduced the amount of work, it seemed to provide inconvenience to the customers since they cannot calculate the price they will have to pay beforehand. The account book was also unorganized and had room for improvement.
The next day, we attempted to talk to the owner again, but she simply responded that she does not have time to talk to us at the moment. Although Zoya and I thought that by providing the shop with our insights, we would be helping them and thus the owner would be cooperative, we learned that many of the business owners here are content with how the current situation is as long as they are not making a loss and do not see the need for change.
On Wednesday, we were assigned a new shop to work with. Irene’s Eatery was located inside the market full of grocery stores, stationary shops, and small clothes stores. We sat down with Irene, the owner of the shop, and talked to her about its current situation. Three main issues were:
- No differentiation – There was a street full of similar eateries located side by side and none was differentiated from the others. They each had similar food and price, with small board with their name on it. In such market, we thought that it would be important to make Irene’s store stand out more than the others through decoration and advertisement since lowering the price of the food would mean others will do the same. We decided that we will put up panels that will be visible to customers even from far away. Irene also informed us that there are most customers in the summer since there are more tourists. To attract more tourists, we created a Facebook page with pictures of the food and location as well as on other travel websites such as tripadvisor.com.
(a picture of a shop right next to Irene’s Eatery)
- Need for more worker – when asked what main thing she needs our help for, Irene answered that she is currently looking for a new worker. Although a couple of people came to try out the work, they all quitted due to the long working hours. We first told each of our homestay families about the job position and asked them to help us find a worker. They all listened attentively and was willing to help us. We will have to look for more ways to spread the word through ways such as local websites for job search.
(workers come to the market at 4:45 in the morning to prepare the food everyday.)
3. Need for proper accounting – When asked for the store’s accounting book, Irene answered that she does not feel the need for a book since she can remember all the transactions. We tried to explain to her the benefits of keeping a log and told her that we will deal with the accounting for her while we are here. Since she is already keeping all the receipts, it will not be hard to start the process and to teach her how to keep the record. We hope that she will be willing to continue keeping the book even after we leave.
We hope that by the end of our stay here, we will be able to achieve each of the goals and make Irene’s business more successful.