There’s a Christmas store in every imagination, including the one where Santa and his elves – and Mrs. Claus? – work the whole year round creating and wrapping presents.
This one on San Francisco del Monte in Quezon City is unique. On a shopping day like Sunday, its tall iron gates are bolted and there are no signs to guide the first-time visitor. A plastic sign as small as a wallet assures you that you’ve, as Ms. Waze tells you, arrived at your destination.
A guard reluctantly opens the gates to reveal a parking lot good for 10 cars, but today there are only five cars facing another double gate, and it’s the entrance to a warehouse. The main building housing the store doesn’t look like a store if you expect an openly inviting area filled with goods to tempt buyers.
Through a narrow door the hesitant but curious buyer climbs up a flight of stairs, past a sign saying only six persons are allowed at a time. By the grace of our guardian angels, there’s just the three of us. We are soon to find two others ahead of us.
Is this a Christmas store? We are greeted by spooks and goblins who have overstayed their Halloween welcome, but there’s more to come. Santas and Christmas angels, toys and novelty items, kitchen- and table-ware, artificial flowers, unremarkable stuff like keychains, 101 percent from China, arranged in rows. Artificial pine trees occupy an entire room, bare of décor and looking as drab as their surroundings. The experienced bargain hunter considers this a good sign, however. Cheap goods made cheaper by the lack of pretension – no fancy labels, wrappers, or boxes sized to fit.
My shopping, aka browsing, was done in 15 minutes, my bill P600. My two companions spent 40 minutes and P3,000 and P13,000 each, the latter because she was assigned to decorate the clubhouse in their village. A few days later her mother-in-law wanted to see what this colorless but Unique Toys and Novelties store looked like, so guess how much she spent? Clue: She received a garland of P200 gift certificates, her reward for, I guess, overshopping.
Don’t tell, but methinks this store is the source of many a wholesale buyer from Divisoria.