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In the maze of shopping arcades and malls, buyers are still drawn to Cubao





Elinando B. Cinco

Technology-aided retailing managers explicitly agree. “It’s still a feverish contest to lasso in the shoppers’ money out there,” referring to Metro Manila. And they are talking about wholesalers and individual buyers.

Note that the metropolis is not wanting of dazzling world-class shopping meccas — SM Malls of the Sys; Trinoma, Greenbelt,  Techno Hub, and Town Center of the Ayalas; Commons, Tiendesitas, Greenhills of the Ortigases; Vista Malls of the Villars; Libis Town Center of Meaworld.

Marketers say today’s shoppers are whimsical and “hard to please.” But the most challenging of all to overcome is that they are playing”favorites.”

Those and more were the observations of a male social psychologist I met in December last year.

A college graduate in retail management from a Midwestern university in the US his revelations were interesting.

The foreigner was here for a month as an invited guest of a Filipino retail store specialist, from the middle of November and to mid-December. The heaviest retailing season in sales volume in the country.

I was particularly intrigued by his labeling some individual  buyers as “playing favorites.”

“It simply means shoppers are drawn to a retail conglomerate where they feel they are at ease, maybe motivated by interior décor, shelves arrangement, nice staff, pleasant air-conditioning, lower prices,” he said.

“And what is bewildering is that they keep on coming back to the outlet even if they already  transferred to a residence much farther than where they were when they first entered the retail complex,” added.

I asked him if he found the loyalty gesture practiced by Filipinos. “Yes, it appears,” he answered.

I told him maybe I have the same unexplained intuition. In my case, to the hustling and bustling Cubao area, the Araneta Center, in particular.

Call it, for sentimental reasons. In the late-1950s, while studying in college, my father would ask me to hand-carry some money order payments to the Makabayan Publishing where it maintained a two-story building. It printed the Weekly Nation family magazine and the vernacular Tagumpay.magazine. The two publications were among the periodicals that my old man distributed as a dealer to major towns of Samar.

The publishing company building was in the area where the now SM Cubao stands. The coliseum was starting to be constructed.

When the Araneta Coliseum opened featuring the Flash Elorde-Harold Gomes world title fight in March1960, I was one of those who fell line to the general admission gallery (P2 per), but retreated when the line extended up to 20th Avenue and was not even moving.

A few months later, I watched the shows of Harry Belafonte and his Calypso troupe, the Trio Los Panchos,  XavierCugat and his orchestra featuring his blond Spanish singer-wife Charo, the first public performance of the Bayanihan Dance Troupe, and a lot of other personalities. Each for P1 per general admission.

After each of those came my loyal patronage of the Aguinaldo’s department store, Ma Mon Luk noodle house, seafood at the Farmers Market, and personal wear at COD department store, movies at New Frontier theater, and groceries at the supermarket.

And, yes, the lighting of the giant Christmas tree in front of the Coliseum was a regular Yuletide family schedule when the kids were growing up.

For all of the above, we undertook the loyalty trip first from Balic-Balic, Sampaloc, Manila. And today the same patronage being done coming from Batasan Hills, Quezon City.


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