Ukay-Ukay/Surplus Shops: Why do we see them everywhere in the Philippines?

Philippines
December 2, 2011 8:44pm CST
It's not that I am against these thrift stores or 2nd hand stores here in the Philippines. In fact I do buy some once in a while. Some people are really fond of buying from these stores in fact there are a variety of them proliferating all over the country. Others oppose buying from these stores because of the so-called "unhygienic" issue of used clothes and things. But really 'ukays' are age-old business. I remember during the 80's the Eloy's chain of thrift shops were popular. Eloy's buy 2nd hand clothes and things of value locally from people in the neighborhood (LOCAL) who exchanges them for quick cash and loans. I remember my father once brought me a 'bang-bang' jeans (don't asked me what is a 'bang-bang' jeans, ask Mr. Google - ha...ha...ha...) saying that its a great and cheap one from Mang Eloy's store. Drop the time travel back memories, what concerns me is how these multi-million business proliferate in the Philippines. Almost 100% of these goods came from outside the Philippines, particularly the US, Europe and some Asian nations. Containers and containers arrived each day loaded with these commodities. Currently there is no importation law that are meant for commercial importation of used clothing and apparels. The only allowed importation by law are those for charity and donation/aid purposes. So how come we can see these goods being commercialized and sold almost everywhere here in the Philippines. As far as I know there are several permits that are to be secured by these importers before they can commercially sell them. One of this permit involve the DENR to ensure that they are safe and is not harmful to our environment and that they comply with the anti-dumping law. This role from the DENR is very important to safeguard us from being dumped by other wealthy countries of their waste and toxic commodities. It is OBVIOUS that the law is not being followed by some of our government agencies. I cannot tell if we are to campaign against these stores/shops because they obviously entered the Philippines without proper procedures and taxes. And since they are cheap and practical to buy, Filipinos find savings in buying them instead of the locally manufactured goods or imported goods that paid the correct importation taxes. I just hope the Filipinos (not only thru Pnoy's initiative) would know the real consequence why these ukay-ukay and surplus shops proliferated our country. And finally, (but this is just wishing and praying out loud) the environment and Juan Dela Cruz will not suffer from these consequence on the long run....
2 people like this
7 responses
@SIMPLYD (75885)
• Philippines
5 Dec 11
My husband is fond of buying his jackets from Ukay-ukay, so much so, that he has plenty of unused ones in our closet! I even angrily told him that he stopped buying them because in the long run he is not saving anything but already wasting his money, because in the end he is not using them. Now, we have lots of jackets to give to the poor after the New year, when we would usually go though our clothes not being used anymore. And i think, because ukay-ukay is really patronized by poor and rich alike, they proliferate. Oh, i don't like buying in those ukay-ukay.
• Philippines
5 Dec 11
It has been my habit that whenever my family have used clothes we no longer use we regularly give them to our relatives in the provinces. To me ukay-ukay played a great help during Ondoy flood where aside from a few of our own used clothing I have bought bundles and drop them on a tv station in answer to their call fro used clothings and other needs by the victims. But now I am thinking, if those used clothing are really donations to our poor people that ended on the ukay-ukay shops being sold commercially, the DSWD might have sufficient used clothing to distribute to the victims and maybe, just maybe other institutions won't solicit anymore of used clothing and focus on other items needed by the victims. There is also one experience I cannot forget from a saleslady of these ukay-ukay shop. The saleslady keeps on telling me that I should patronize the ukay-ukay since they original and branded with good quality clothing at its cheapest price and that they help generate work to them. I told her, what will happen to our local clothing manufacturers if we will just buy ukays instead of the new ones? I told her, people will also loose their job since less and less people uses locally manufactured clothing? I asked her if that is fair? Good thing if both locally manufactured and ukay will have a fair deal in doing commercial business. But where is fairness when the locally manufacturers pay importation tax for their raw materials in making these clothes whereas the ukays have not paid or paid less on their importations?
@SIMPLYD (75885)
• Philippines
22 Dec 11
Correct! The government should do something in order to stop the diversion of the use of the donations of used clothings. They have to be stricter now on ukay-ukay selling.
@SIMPLYD (75885)
• Philippines
9 Jan 12
Thanks for the BR my friend!
• Australia
3 Dec 11
i would say the reason for that is philippines is a third world country, which means a poor country with lots of poor people. those clothes are donated to third world countries for small businesses. when did i realize this? when i got a plastic bag attached to a letter in my mailbox saying any used or unwanted clothes can be put inside that bag as donation to third world countries. these clothes are specifically for people to sell so that these poor people can earn income. that is were ukay ukay is from. so i don't think there is "breaking the law". it is still charity. the only problem though is it is not well distributed and people who belong to middle class or upper are the ones mostly benefiting from it (read: ebay.ph).
• Philippines
3 Dec 11
These people that gave you solicitations maybe acting in good faith that they will be giving this to charities like our country who belong to the third world - specifically for the poorest of the poor and should not be bought from resellers. That's how DONATION should be - FREE. How could you say CHARITY when you wanted something in return? I have nothing against the stores who are selling them - they are paying taxes by paing their business permit. That is LEGAL. The topic deals with how these commodities proliferate without the proper documentation that they are for commercial value. When you say commercial value - the consumers should be well protected for the value of what they will buy. That includes protection that they have paid proper taxes when they entered the country. Proper documentation that they are fit and environment friendly to our consumers. We don't want to be a junkyard especially of toxic commodities from our affluent neighbors. For your end, you were a good samaritan and we thank you for that - but would'nt you like to know that your good deeds have reached those that are deserving of your generosity?
@louievill (16621)
• Philippines
4 Dec 11
Just my personal view on donations coming from abroad, yes being in a third world country where donations has to benefit the poor from other people's kindness, then the Government should have some kind of body that would distribute goods coming in as donations for free, but I just continue to wonder why they end up in the hands of the middle class or upper middle class entrepreneurs who sells them for a profit, the goods are donations and are intended to be distributed for free to the needy, personally I just feel or smell something is not right, sorry
• Philippines
4 Dec 11
Yes my friend there is a government agency that is supposed to be managing these donations from our friendly neighbors around the world and that is the DSWD (The Department of Social Welfare and Development). Large scale solicitations by foundations and non-profit organizations should pass by DSWD who will give them authority in behalf of the Filipino people. Aside from the DENR who handles and checks if the commodities are environment friendly, if those are large scale donations there must be papers to support coming from the DSWD. I do think there are adequate measures, safeguards and agencies that are in place in the government but sad to say people in these agencies play mute, deaf and blind for the benefit of a FEW (I hope its not MOST) in the government. I hope that discussions like this will make people aware and do their share to stop illegal business for these kind of people and help the government achieve its ideal goal. The UKAY-UKAY is just one issue I can help Pnoy (the President) to awaken the sleeping mighty dragons in the house and senate to reinstate the law and order. Smaller than the big headaches but at least I am trying my own little way to help put things in order. I just hope I am not alone in this thinking.
• Philippines
3 Dec 11
Well, I ma a frequent buyer at these thrift stores for two reasons - I'm saving money and I get more clothes suited to me comapred on clothes that I get from department stores and other garment stores. Like others, I was drawn becuase of the cheap process and the wide array of choices. As you mentioned, many people involved in this industry are being 'ignored' simply becuase they will cry foul when their livelihood is taken away from them and the law in this country isn't exactly implemented to the letter. If it was done in the beginning, there would have been some improvement in the law. In terms of tax, these srores arent' paying anything except leases for the commercial space they use and the clothes themselves. People often don;t give value to these used clothes becuase they are used clothes, discarded by their original owners. Others think there is very little profit to extract from. This mentality results in absolving vendors from tax becuase of the nature of used clothes. Think of street vendors or people in the underground business, they are not expected to contribute in taxes due to the little (this is a subjective view) profit they earn. I cannot imagine what will happen to this issue and right now, nothing is done and no one is moving. If this is going to swept under the rug like many issues, the law will not be effective nor implemented in the first place.
• Philippines
3 Dec 11
These FOUNDATIONS and non-profit institutions are one vehicle to let these used commodities enter our country. Donated items are tax free and they exploit this avenue to let the ukay-ukays and surplus shops enter our country. They're supposed to be given free if these are donated or aid? How come we are paying for them? Poor Juan Dela Cruz is again 'ginigisa sa sarili nyang mantika' tsk..tsk..tsk..
• Philippines
4 Dec 11
I am not really sure about the transaction or how the whole process works. It can be assumed that the clothes are originally intended for donation but some people made into a business enterprise. Or they are already part of an enterprise and people saw this as a good business opportunities, (the mindset is people will buy these clothes becuase they are still in good condition but very affordable prices). on these scenarios, people are selling and distributing them as merchandise. If so, taxes should be implemented. But I also raised the point of people selling these clothes are members of the underground economy.
• Philippines
4 Dec 11
I'm sure there are people who are exploiting the transaction and are earning hefty money.
@ralphs (209)
• Philippines
9 Dec 11
Filipinos are enjoying to buy cheap things like dress, shoes, accessories, so anywhere in the Philippines particularly manila have the ukay ukay thing and pirated cds that's what you called "only in the Philippines", and there is no wrong in buying in the ukay-ukay make sure you wash the clothes perfectly because some clothes have a virus, be careful.
• Philippines
9 Dec 11
Yes they were cheap but you're saying there are viruses on the clothes? So much that it need government regulation so that we will not get these kinds of clothing. I know that the term 'Only in the Philippines' connotes the goodness and promotes the beautiful things in the Philippines like the Jeepney, the Palawan Underground River, The Banawe Rice Terraces, the Philippine Tarsier, the Smallest Fish in Albay, Boracay, and so on and so forth. Those pirated CDs and ukay-ukay with viruses are not to be proud of. Tsk...tsk..tsk..
@barehugs (8992)
• Canada
4 Dec 11
AS a retiree, and a man of means, I'd like to say that I buy most of my clothes second hand. There is something about a 'carefully used Shirt, or a pair of jeans' That makes them feel good to wear. MY very best and most favorite shirt cost 23 cents second hand!
• Philippines
4 Dec 11
Good for you pal. That'll be around 10 pesos here in the Philippines for a pair of jeans and shirts. The 2nd hand clothes (ukay-ukay) here ranges from 50 to as much as 500 pesos ($1.10 to $11.36) for tops and jeans and even much more to other shops. Our poorest of the poor could only earn as low as $1.10 in a day which is enough for a single meal a day. Where could a single poor person get another $1.10 to clothe him at least to shield him from the colds of the night. Thus this donation should be given FREE to them not bought.
@ybong007 (6659)
• Philippines
3 Dec 11
Ukay ukay is already part of a typical Filipino lifestyle. Both the rich and poor have their own reasons on why they patronize the product. Reasons may vary but the bottom line is everyone seems to benefit from this business, except the BIR.
• Philippines
3 Dec 11
How do we know the BIR does not benefit from them or any government agencies that direct or indirectly allows these goods to proliferate illegally? BIR has the means to brought this to proper channels that these commodities are improperly channeled to our market? Or are they just being deaf and mute about this. I'm sure many of the BIR people also patronize these ukay-ukay/surplus stores.
@cherriefic (4304)
• Baguio, Philippines
10 Jan 16
Thrift shops here in the Philippines seems to be making money from the stuff donated by other countries. Its supposed to be for the people in need. Its just sad that it doesn't end to those people who should have it.