What’s a Sari-Sari Store?

If you’ve been to the Philippines, you’ve surely run across a sari-sari store at some point. They are what we call bodegas in New York, cornershops in England, mama shops in Singapore.

The word “sari-sari” is Tagalog for “variety / diversity.”Sari-sari stores are flexible, common, convenient, and located everywhere. They’re packed with all the things you need for daily living (from toothpaste to canned sardines, soap to coffee) in tiny, affordable packages. Sometimes they also sell cold drinks, cooked snacks, or vegetables. They are entrepreneurial, usually run by women from a home as a side business.

Sari-Sari Storybooks takes the sari-sari store as it’s inspiration. Filipino culture is as diverse as it’s 7,000 islands, and its stories are something we need for daily living. This is especially true for children, who need to see themselves reflected in the books they hold. Children’s books will be the accessible, portable packaging of culture. We hope kids of Filipino heritage will see that they come from something that is beautiful, humorous, and richly diverse.

Jennifer M. Maggay, sari-sari store owner in Basco, Batanes. Photo by Christina Newhard

This blog will document process, highlight Filipino creatives everywhere, and related topics such as language vitality, libraries, reading and schools.

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