Are you joining a Christmas bazaar? Discover how these first-timers managed to get through busy days and sleepless nights.
Working as full-time entrepreneurs during Christmas means making lots of sacrifices. These include hectic schedules, stressful days, and sleepless nights. For business partners Mark Diacamos and Jenny Rose Aguinaldo, Christmas is not just a season of festivities—it’s also filled with opportunities.
Mark and Jenny own Pita Master Shawarma, a food stall business that offers shawarma. Aside from managing their own food stalls, Mark and Jenny also supply their products to other businesses who are interested in selling shawarma.
This year, Mark and Jenny set up two food stalls at “Paskuhan sa Tiger City,” a major Christmas bazaar located at the government center of Mandaluyong City. Aside from food, the bazaar also features clothing stalls, carnival rides, and nightly entertainment.
It’s the first time Mark and Jenny joined a Christmas bazaar as entrepreneurs, and they were taken by surprise—it wasn’t a walk in a park.
“Nagsimula ang bazaar noong November 19. Naging mahirap. Sobrang busy lagi. Hindi namin inexpect ‘yung dami ng customer,” Mark said. “‘Di tulad ng ibang araw, dagsa talaga ng tao ngayon. Dito [sa Christmas bazaar] ang bultuhan ng bumibili.”
“Sa mga busy na araw, nakakataranta at nakakapagod. Minsan kasi hindi mo na ma-manage lahat ng dumadagsa na customer sa bazaar,” he admitted.
Since the bazaar started, Mark, Jenny, and employees of Pita Master Shawarma would always close up shop late but start their days early.
“Lagi kaming walang tulog. Umaga pa lang, pagkagising namin, bibili na kami [ng supplies] para sa product namin. Magse-set up pa kami [ng food stall] sa hapon, tapos magtitinda kami hanggang madaling araw,” Jenny said.
“Marami ang dagsa ng mga customer kapag mga 8:00 p.m. na, kung kailan magsisimula ang Christmas program sa harap ng city hall,” Jenny said. Government employees and city residents would organize a program on a stage where performers could sing and dance; meanwhile, Mark and Jenny would be handing out shawarmas to hungry customers all night long.
The busiest nights for business, Jenny said, are Fridays and Saturdays, as those were the days when most parents and children had lots of free time for leisure.
“Hanggang madaling araw, mga 1:00 a.m. pa kami [sa mga araw na ‘yun], tapos uuwi kami. Ilang oras lang ang tulog namin, then gigising na naman, tapos uulitin lang namin ang ginawa namin sa araw na ‘yun,” Jenny said.
With this experience, Mark and Jenny said Christmas bazaars are like no other. For one, the venture was financially rewarding.
“Maganda ang pasok ng income. Steady ang paglago ng negosyo. Nababawi namin ‘yung puhunan,” Jenny said.
“Nakatulong ang [location]. Sa sentro kami ng Mandaluyong,” Mark added.
However, the Christmas bazaar experience also comes with difficulties, hardships, and mistakes.
“Nung nagsimula kami, ang hirap kasi ang dami ng dapat bilhin [na supply] kasi ang daming customer. Ang dami ng dapat asikasuhin kapagdagsa ng customer. Puro puyat at pagod ang ginawa naming puhunan para sa pwesto na ito,” Jenny said.
One of the most difficult challenges the business faced was managing the workforce.
“Isa sa pinakamahirap naming naranasan, kapag wala ‘yung isang tao mo. Syempre, kapag nakulangan tayo ng tao, tapos siya ‘yung naka-schedule sa paghihiwa ng gulay, eh ‘di magiging trabaho siya ng iba,” Jenny said. “Hindi naman sinasadya ‘yung pag-absent, pero walang magagawa, kailangan gawin ‘yung mga gawain. Kailangan talaga pag-usapan ang scheduling ng tao kapag magma-manage sa bazaar.”
Aside from this, Pita Master Shawarma had to strategize on how to serve more customers as fast as possible. That meant delegating specific tasks to employees.
“Natutunan namin kung paano i-manage ang tao para pabilisin ang kilos, para mas maraming ma-serve na customer. Kapag maraming na-serve na customer, mas mabilis mauubos ang product mo. Pero kapag matagal i-serve, baka lumipat sa iba ang customer kaya dapat mabilis,” Jenny said.
Entering a holiday bazaar is no walk in the park. Jenny said that allocating the budget, creating the products, managing the inventory, and hiring hardworking employees must be meticulously done to ensure a seamless bazaar business.
As if they were taking a leap of faith, it took a lot of guts for Mark and Jenny to leave their full-time jobs to go on as full-time entrepreneurs.
Mark and Jenny have been working as employees in the food industry for years. It was only in 2017 that they decided to join hands and manage their own food business.
“Nung sinimulan namin ang Pita Master Shawarma, mas malaki po ‘yung pera na pumasok sa amin,” Jenny said. “Kami na ang tatawag sa supplier, kami na mamimili, kami na gagawa ng lahat ng product.”
The duo said the experience was not only exciting but also grueling.
“Bago kami nag-start ng negosyo, pinag-usapan muna namin ito ng misis ko. Ang sabi niya, kikita man kami o hindi, ang importante sinubukan namin,” Mark said. “Dapat maging focused [ang mga business owner]. Huwag dapat i-expect na kikita agad, dahil pinaghihirapan ‘yan.”
For everyone, Christmas is a season of festivities, but for entrepreneurs, it is also a season of opportunities. With dedication and determination, the entrepreneur in you can surely achieve success.
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