The art of reselling: For goodnessâ cake!
Mango Bravo, a bestseller.

The art of reselling: For goodness’ cake!

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2021 - 12:00am

Ever heard that resilience tastes sweet? Here’s how.

At the height of the pandemic lockdown last year, many people lost their jobs. Others who managed to maintain their jobs suffered from fewer working days, thus a pay cut.

With mouths to feed and bills to pay, some resorted to “pasabuy,” a play on the Filipino word “pasabay,” which means to hitch. Pasabuy is done when a person asks a friend or someone going on an errand in a store, market, mall or restaurant to buy him or her something with the intention of paying the buyer an extra amount.

For example, when some of my close friends in Manila know I am going to UP Los Baños (one place that is a source of joy and hope for me), they will send me a message to buy them buco pie, fresh milk and kesong puti. Of course, they are my friends, so I will go out of my way for them. In the time of the pandemic when movements are calculated for safety, it pays well to have a pasabuyer. My friends will send me their payment through GCash or PayMaya and I just charge them extra for my gas and toll fee. Fair enough. Product distribution is done through Grab delivery. Or if they live in the same area where I am, I deliver their orders at their doorsteps.

From that experience, I derive happiness. We need a community in this time of uncertainty, albeit we should do it with much precaution — face mask and face shield on, rubbing alcohol ready, social distancing observed as I place the goods on the chair outside their gates. I just wave at my friends who stand by their patio. Times are uncertain and the farther we keep a distance, the better. The joyful wave is enough. For now.

It’s not an easy task. I line up in stores to get the goods. But loving a dear friend is easy. Bringing joy to others is always good for one’s mental health.

The pasabuyers are now part of Conti‘s Delight Shoppers program.

I began my column with my personal experience to relate the stories of pasabuyers of Conti’s bakeshop. The bakeshop company has upped the ante and renamed pasabuyers as Delight Shoppers — to give dignity to their job, to give soul to their service for others, to give them hope. Thus was spawned the art of reselling the bakeshop’s famous, consistently good Mango Bravo and other cakes. At the end of the day, no matter how hard the days come and go, we need to hope, especially in a time like this. (This early, I tell you, I am no match to the pasabuyers of the bakeshop. I am a kindergartener compared to them.)

The bakeshop and restaurant company, like many other establishments, closed at the height of the enhanced community quarantine last year. Thankfully, it inched its way to reopening its stores one after the other — because there was a demand for cakes.

The virus, unseen and treacherous, cannot stop birthdays and anniversaries. For many, a cake is needed for a celebration; it’s a symbol of hope, of fortitude, of the desire to fight the virus to live a long life.

Every day, Mari Basco and Sheryll Geronimo, respectively the managers of Conti’s south and north clusters, noticed that a long line of customers (that was during the time when dine-in clients were not yet allowed) appeared at their restaurants. Each customer was allowed to buy three cakes. The same faces of customers would appear at their stores every day. They also found out that they brought with them friends or family members to fall in line so they could buy more cakes. Others talked to strangers they saw in the area and paid them extra to fall in line and buy cakes for them.“ Pasabuy started in SM North Edsa when the Conti’s there was the only one opened among our restaurants. We observed that the customers who came to the restaurant were the same faces we saw yesterday, the other day. They bought a lot of cakes. In bulk. And we wondered. There were times when we would see them place the cakes they bought on the floor, on the tables. Then we found out on Facebook that they were pasabuyers or resellers of our cakes,” said Geronimo.

The same thing happened when the bakeshop company’s restaurants opened in the south. The line of people was long, which, according to the bakeshop managers, normally only happened during Christmastime.

The management’s first recourse was to discourage pasabuyers because they feared that their products would not be handled properly at all times. Take note, some resellers placed the cakes they bought on the floor (!).

But instead of discouraging the resellers, the bakeshop company talked to them and offered them the Shoppers Delight program where the pasabuyers — from as far as Tacloban, La Union and Quezon province — underwent a five-hour training on food handling and hygiene and quality control for free. Basco and Geronimo said no quota is required among pasabuyers but if they sell more, they get an incentive, aside from their personal mark-ups in price. Mark-ups are dependent on the distance the cakes will travel from the store they originated from. The resellers are also encouraged to invest in an insulated box for a minimal fee to make sure the cakes will be as fresh and delightful as if they were bought from the store. They also have their own priority lanes at the bakeshop.

Mari Basco and Sheryll Geronimo, Conti‘s respective managers in the south and north clusters of bakeshops and restaurants.

From 18 resellers last year, Conti’s has now 76 pasabuyers.

One pasabuyer, according to Basco, “is an architect who lost business during the pandemic. To make both ends meet, he ventured into reselling cakes.” The architect and his wife now moonlight as resellers of the bakeshop’s products. As Delight Shoppers, the couple have invested in a freezer, too.

Geronimo added a lady security guard in one of the malls in Pasig was badly hit by the pandemic due to reduction of working hours. To survive, the lady guard also thought of being part of the Delight Shopper program. “She’s now contemplating on becoming a full-time reseller. In difficult times, bringing delight while earning is truly a blessing,” Geronimo said.

The stories of resilience come aplenty, said Geronimo and Basco. Like how a dancer for a TV variety show lost his job and now finds delight in reselling cakes. With his earnings, he’s able to put food on their table.

In times like this, though life is hard and uncertain, sweet success, big or small, is not hard to come by. For goodness’ cake!



(E-mail me at bumbaki@yahoo.com. I’m also on Twitter @bum_tenorio and Instagram @bumtenorio. Have a blessed weekend.)

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