By ACE ALEGRE
BAGUIO CITY (July 19, 2011) – Baguio’s famed “ukay-ukay” (second-hand or pre-loved clothes and commercial items) is enjoying hundred-folds of brisk business via internet.
With just a digital camera and a Facebook account, “Mitch”, who has since gone on-line to sell her “ukays” gets as high as P20,000 profit a day. “Before, in my shop, I earned only P5,000,” she said.
“Mitch” sells at the virtual “ukay” shop “Name It Shop” but physically shares a small stall at Marbay, below Maharlika Livelihod Center in this city.
Her business became more brisk, she said, when she went on-line more than a year ago.
There are around 46 named ukay shops on Facebook, mostly Baguio-based. Name it, you have it, there is — OH KAY GANDA…….OH KAY UKAY…..UKAY GALORE….LOVE UKAY Shop……….UKAY Frenzy….…Ukay Dito….Ukay Ukay Shopaholicks….Ukay Ni Badiday.
Some “ukay” entrepreneurs went more high-end (read: sosyal) at least in their names, and called their offerings “pre-loved items on line stores”. They number more than a hundred. Selling mostly pre-loved “girl things”, the virtual stores are also into almost all kinds of imported as well as locally-produced commercial items from head to foot including figure-enhancing pills. Mind you, even furnitures and household fittings.
The local ukay-ukay or “wagwagan” centers first drew the attention of tourists in 2001 to 2004 when its bargain prices for Hong Kong’s discarded designer wear began to draw more tourists.
Used merchandise is shipped home from Hong Kong through balikbayan boxes or container vans delivered to the country’s ports.
“Ukay” dealers used to operate on side streets, but many of them have begun leasing stalls in downtown Baguio after 2001 when the demand for bargain items shot up.
Between 2005 and 2009, many “ukay” (then called segunda mano or second-hand) shops also opened inside old movie houses.
But the cost of lease or rent f stalls also began shooting up. A four feet by four feet stall at the old Skyworld Condominiums along Sesion Road is rented for P20,000 a month. Stalls below it like those along Harrison Road go for less at P5,000 a month. While stalls at the famous old four-storey Bayanihan Hotel near the Rose Garden in Burnham Park turned into a “wagwagan” (ukay) complex cost about the same.
Rather than renting stalls, said Mitch before talking with this writer was hurrying back to her virtual “Name It Shop” from a two-day fast-mail and freight forwarder to ship her merchandize to an online
buyer, “much better sa Facebook” and “mas mabilis flow puhunan.”
Transactions, according to another “ukay” online vendor, are fast. Said an avid on-line buyer, when an item is marked by buyers as “mine” (as comment in the FB), there goes the item. “All you have to do is pay it bank-to-bank or arrange a meeting.”
When sought after items, especially signature ones, are new (meaning they still have tags) or very slightly used, they are sold faster, Mitch says.
Such is a brisk and fast business, perhaps one of the faster growing businesses in the city from its beginnings as “ukay-ukay” along Baguio back streets way back in the 90’s, to today’s use of networking technology.