Come, prune & trim away with me... Let's try to shape our world together!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A place under the sun (not a hate campaign)

I think malls have become an important part of Filipino culture.  In lieu of parks (there are just a handful of decent ones anyway), people throng to them on weekends, tagging along their kids, elderly family members, and even their pets!  Malls are no longer just a place for buying, eating or  watching movies, they have become places of leisure where families and friends spend quality time together. We bring tourists and balikbayans to malls, just as we bring them to Tagaytay and Bohol…

A couple of months ago, my college friends and I met up for a reunion.  One of us who's now based in the US came for a vacation.  Since we all haven't seen each other for some time, we got fragmented into smaller groups talking about a variety of things. As we were in one of the newer malls (Bonifacio High Street, one of my favorites), talk subsequently went to malls.  And if you're talking about malls, you'll ultimately have to talk about THE mall, MOA, and its owner, SM.

Then... BANG!  All of a sudden to my surprise, the fragmented groups merged and eagerly joined the conversation about SM.  Though a couple just gave their nods and ahs, the majority emphatically shared experiences and insights about this retail giant that SM has become. The mostly first-hand accounts as customers, suppliers and tenants of SM (I’ve been all of these) poured out - from the business culture - the take-it-or-leave-it attitude they have on the non-existent negotiating table in their offices, to the many different issues the group had with them: the mandatory opening ‘support’ required from suppliers when new supermarkets open - OR else,  the self-serving 'charitable' deals offered to tenants in the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy; the charging of their employees for office drinking water, the hollow promises given to a seriously injured guest in their SMX Center that has gone unfulfilled for over a year.  The issues went on and on...

Being the vocal person that I am, I had quite a lot to share too! I live in the south of the metro, pretty  near SM Southmall.  So be it, maybe I’m a typical Pinoy who goes for the underdog so I’ve always enjoyed seeing smaller commercial clusters open and prosper. Can you imagine my dismay (actually, disgust is more appropriate) when less than a year ago, I saw that a new SM Hypermarket opened just a few kilometers down the road from Southmall, much much closer to the other smaller establishments in Las Pinas.  What the…? Don’t they have the decency to leave some business for those other players in the area? They already have Southmall! Tsk, tsk, these players would surely be left with just scraps...  That’s also exactly how I felt when they opened the SM Hypermarket just a few kilometers from Mega Mall, right next to Tiendesitas along C5, and also quite close to Libis where other competitors were located.  True enough, one has long since gone out of business.

It was no surprise to my friends when I said that I in fact try my very best not to buy anything from SM for almost a year now (the opening of the LP Hypermarket was the last straw for me).  It is my silent protest that makes me feel a bit better knowing that I am not contributing much to an establishment whose business principles and practices I don’t agree with.  I concede, this grand expansion (and mind you, not only in the retail industry! but that’s another story) may just be a really wise business strategy: economies of scale, synergy, diversification, etc.  However, nobody said that decency and tolerance are not valid business strategies as well.  I believe that all of us, people and business entities alike, deserve a place under the sun.  All of us, not just the giants.

If their growing number in close proximity is any indication, malls are also becoming an important part of our economy.  They provide employment, business opportunities, source of governmental income, and plenty of choices for the buying public.  In short, free enterprise at its best!  Is it then fair to say that the more malls, the merrier?

The local government of Bohol continues to resist the entry of the giant.

Baguio has already lost it's country flair...

Next: Tagaytay, what are we bound to lose there?


  1. you know my love affair with henry sy. so let's just agree to disagree on this one ☺☺☺


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