In 1995, Josefina took over the courtyard of her house and together with her husband Mario, they started a small grocery store that gained strength over the years and today is the best known and largest store in her neighborhood, offering creamy food, snacks, drinks. , sweet bread, ice cream and pet food. Although they have experienced many crises, they continue to position themselves among people’s favourites.
“We started with potatoes for cooking, soft drinks, sweets, very little at first, but we were already adding that we have cheeses, hams and even savory, sweet breads but from the bakery and things for pets that they asked us. was a lot It was not easy, but we have managed well, we have already expanded the premises and our Customers are very loyal The truth”, Josefina said in an interview.
Like his “El Monte” store, there’s more to Mexico than that 1.05 million neighborhood stores15.65% of the total number of micro businesses which supply 52% of the national demand, thus contributing 1% to the gross domestic product, data from the National Alliance of Small Businesses (Anpec) shows.
From registered small shops, Six out of 10 are led by a woman, This is the main breadwinner for the family, as is the case of Karolina, who has been running “Three Sisters” for 14 years, a business she started to support her household and support her daughters, the store named in her honor.
“I opened the store when I was looking for a business to run my home, I’m a single mother, and it would also allow me to take care of my girls. One day when I was going to buy cheese, I said ‘This could be is’ and I approached the saleswoman of that store, I asked her how it moves and slowly I opened mine”.
With the support of that salesman, who shared supplier contacts with her and guided her on how to adapt the premises and manage the merchandise with her savings and a loan from the bank, Carolina started her own business in no time. She now runs it with her daughters and it, unlike other stores, sells sweets that one of her daughters makes, beauty products and clothes that her other daughter takes care of, and some sweets and Imported snacks. This offering also ranks among Colony’s favourites.
By offering a variety of products or gourmet category products like Josefina’s, consumers feel more attracted, their choice from other establishments, especially convenience stores that represent the biggest competition. 60.46% stores.
Alberto Bonetti, CEO and founder of YoFio, an application that seeks to support micro-businesses through instant credit, explains that Mexicans value small stores because they are close to their customers, they are aware of their needs and They offer. What their customers are looking for.
“In micro-businesses, owners get to know their customers better, they know their names, what they buy regularly and how often, which creates bonds of trust that are summarized in: Customer loyalty“
Also, in times of crisis, they are the people who were close to people like an epidemic, because 56% of people prefer to consume in these businesses because they are close to home, avoid crowds and do not spend so much money and time to reach. them..
Price is also a primary factor in choosing them, as is the product curd It can cost 10 pesos, up to 15 in convenience stores.
Small shops vs big establishments
Over the years, Josefina and her family had a favorable rate of sales, growth and customers, which changed when a convenience store came to the neighborhood. Although it did not end its establishment, it did reduce its sales.
“At first it was different, but when it became a (convenience) and at that time, a lot of people chose to shop there, I don’t know if it was because of the fashion or because of the offer, but it became a hit for the moment. . Fortunately, over time we have recovered and many customers choose to buy from us because it is more expensive there or just because of the habit of coming and talking, because we already know them all.”
According to Anpec, three out of four small businesses have closed because of these convenience stores. This has forced micro-businesses to innovate, improve their offerings and add more services, like Carolina does, which delivers to the home.
During the pandemic, Carolina implemented an option to order via WhatsApp in return for a small shipping payment, which worked satisfactorily for her. “Customers love it and we’ve already fixed it.”
Pandemic, the biggest challenge
One of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic was small stores, both due to business closings and lack of liquidity, which forced more than 300,000 businesses to close. Earlier, there was a record of no 1 million, 200,000 stores.
For Carolina and Josefina, the pandemic has been a defining moment, and although it did not force them to close because they are essential businesses, their sales have declined, especially due to the incarceration and the loss of jobs and income.
One of the changes they’ve seen in their customers’ habits is buying more in bulk or by the piece rather than in large packs. If earlier they asked for a kilo of ham, today they only ask for five slices, for example.
This pattern of shopping is also due to the inflation issue which has forced households to reduce their consumption and buy cheaper items or parts. For this reason, both tenants include cheap products, they include wholesale and in-season products, they offer promotions. “You have to invent everything,” Josefina concludes.