The sari-sari store is basically a mom-and-pop general merchandise store present in any neighborhood in the Philippines. Sari-sari is the Philippine word for various or many and different. Thus, the store usually sells different kinds of goods, but mostly basic necessities. It is known as tindahan in Tagalog while in Aklanon, we call them as baraka. It could be a very small enterprise, a converted front of a house with a small window through which customers can see what is for sale inside, selling cooking oil, kerosene, canned goods, children’s snack and candies, cigarette, liquor, soft drinks, some medicines, eggs and maybe some fresh fruit and vegetables in season,
… or it could be a big enterprise, maybe a separate structure in front of the house, or a separate storefront somewhere else, that may include wholesale (in some poblacions or town proper, the big sari-sari stores sell wholesale to owners of small stores in the barrios – they no longer have to go to the capital commercial town or city to buy their stocks), imported goods and merchandise, and because of preponderance now of motorcycles, jeepneys, minicabs and cars in the rural areas … gasoline in large coke bottles (!) … and also, of course, cooked food.
A small neighborhood sari-sari store is a life saver … because you can buy piece by piece (tingi), so if you only need a small amount of let’s say, salt or vinegar, you can buy the corrresponding amount that you need. At a low cost.
It may be the hub of social activity in town, especially for men as some stores may have liquor that they can serve on the premises (usually in my town for example, tuba – fermented coconut sap). Some stores have komiks (Filipino illustrated serialized novels and short stories), magazines and pocket books that they rent out to kids to read per hour so they are a veritable library. Some may have a bakery operation or may have vulcanizing shops attached to them.
Here are more pictures of sari-sari stores in my hometown of Malinao in Aklan province: