Gift shops! What are the very first things that come to your mind whenever you hear these words? Yes! Gifts! Gifts for different and a lot of celebrations and occasions. These may be classified into toys, bags, and everything that can be useful in our house and for personal use. We can buy them in gift shops all around the country.

Zenaida Arjona Coronado, most people call her Zeny, is one of the business owners in Nagcarlan, Laguna, who runs a gift shop. When did she start to sell? At an incredibly early age, together with her mother who owns a gift shop as well, she already experienced how to sell different items to their customers. She recalled having fun seeing the clients choosing and buying whatever gifts they liked. She also enjoyed preparing the items for dispatch such as putting them in a paper bag or sometimes gift wrapping them in accordance to different themes depending on what the occasion was.

Zeny helped her mother run the business when she was young. After school and during weekends, she stayed in the shop to help her mother oversee the business. As years went by, she eventually took over the management of the gift shop guided by her knowledge on operating the business. She inherited the shop from her mother and continued providing the customers what they needed for such occasions and even for their personal needs.

According to Zeny, having a gift shop was a challenge since the customers buy occasionally. It always depends on what season and on the time when they have really big earnings — usually, Christmas season when schools and companies look for exchange gifts for their Christmas parties. However, despite being a single mother and having the gift shop as the only source of money for their living, Zeny was grateful that she was able to manage to give her daughter full support in her studies until her daughter graduated from college.

Passed on through generations, just like what Zeny did to her mother when she was younger, now her daughter also helps Zeny manage the gift shop side by side her journey in finding a perfect job. When the pandemic happened in 2020, Zeny’s Gift Shop was among the businesses affected by business operation restrictions. Zeny was not able to think of anything since the gift shop was their only source of income. From the little earnings that they had, they still managed to save and buy for their everyday needs. Little did they know, time was passing by as they just waited until the government lifted the restrictions and it was back to normal.

Bouncing back from the pandemic, Zeny still encountered hardships as the new normal was never easy for them due to the presence of competitors — not only physical stores but also online stores. They struggled at first to re-gain customers since most people now look for convenience in just one click and one tap, but the government did not neglect them. Instead, she was listed as one of the beneficiaries of the Pangkabuhayan sa Pagbangon at Ginhawa of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). Through this program, she was given assistance and was encouraged to continue what she started by maximizing the provided livelihood kits.

Zeny mentioned that, with the help of DTI, their gift shop was able to add variety in their items such as branded cosmetics that affected their sales positively. As a result, many customers stopped by and bought products that they resell. When asked what her advice for aspirants who want to start a business like hers, Zeny noted, “As you see, the field of our business is not always prospering for it is occasionally. The only thing you can do if you will start business like ours is persevere.” She also added, “Lord will help us, it is up to Him. Whatever He wants for us, let it come and be thankful no matter what.”

Moreover, Zeny emphasized that it is not that she is not dreaming of being more successful. Of course, she wants that but as long as her family is on track, it is alright. Contented as she is with her business running and living her life as a strong mother together with her loving daughter, as long as the Lord is their guidance, there is nothing she can wish for. ♦

Date of release: 3 January 2024