Retail Warriors: Employees' Stories of Resilience
From the start of the Luzon-wide community quarantine on March 12, 2020, followed by the enhanced community quarantine that suspended public transportation operations effective March 17, the supermarkets, pharmacies, and convenience stores of Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc. — the retail affiliate of the Gokongwei Group — have continued to provide quality service to their customers.
From Day 2 of the announcement, all Robinsons Supermarket, Robinsons Easymart, Robinsons Selections, The Marketplace, Shopwise, Shopwise Express, and Wellcome branches were able to open. Given the limitations on public transportation, vans and trucks were hired to facilitate shuttling people safely to and from work. Managers offered to give rides to cashiers, baggers and promotional merchandisers. Lodging was also offered for those who live far away. According to Jody Gadia, Managing Director of Robinsons Supermarket, employees were also given transportation allowance, and a free supply of alcohol and face masks. In some stores, vitamins have also been provided.
Vans and trucks such as this one were commissioned to bring RRHI employees to and from their place of work.
This is just a glimpse of the struggle store personnel face as they commit to this service daily. Everyone tries to pitch in what they can to make sure their assigned store opens. It is not an easy task, but Robinsons Supermarket is committed to do it.
“It’s our pleasure to help our customers. Knowing that we, the entire Robinsons Supermarket Eastwood team, have helped them provide for their needs especially during this difficult time. [It] brings us so much joy to our hearts,” said Czarinah Cajayon, store manager of RS Eastwood.
Cashiers ready to serve customers.
“Pumasok po ako para po kahit papano, makatulong sa mga nangangailangan. Konting bagay pero malaking tulong na ‘yun. Iyon lang naman ang aming maitutulong ko sa kapwa natin.” — Jenny Indita, cashier. [I go to work so no matter what, I'm able to help those with needs. It's a small deed on my part, but it goes a long way; it's my way of helping others.]
Merchandisers stocking the supermarket shelves.
“Para sa akin, sa gitna ng banta sa kaligtasan at kalusugan ko, masaya ako sa ginagawa ko. Mahal ko trabaho ko kahit malayo ang inuuwian ko. Yung makita ko lang na nakakatulong ako sa gitna ng ganitong sitwasyon, yung willingness ko na pumasok kahit alam ko mahihirapan ako sa pagpasok at paguwi kasi alam ko na sa ganitong paraan ako makakatulong sa mga tao,” said Ricci Brazil, sales clerk. [For me, despite the risks on my safety and health, I am happy doing my work. I love my work, even if I live far. I see that if I can be useful in the midst of this situation, even if I have difficulty coming and going to work, this is how I can help other people.]
“Dahil kailangan ng customer ang serbisyo natin, paano na lang ‘pag wala sila makain? Unang una ang grocery ay needs yan, hindi naman wants lang. Hindi naman bibili lang kasi gusto mo lang. Bibili ka kasi kailangan mo. Oo, andon ang sasahod tayo pero ang maganda doon, sumahod ka nag-serve ka pa ng serbisyo sa ibang tao.” —Mark Tilan, bagger. [Our customers need our service. What if they don't have food to eat? Grocery items are needs, not just wants... Yes, we get paid to do our jobs, but it's nice to earn a living by fulfilling the services required by others.]
“Pumapasok kami para sa aming mga pamilya na umaasa sa amin, at para din sa ibang mga tao sa mga kailangan nila. Despite na sa araw-araw naming pagpasok na walang masakyan. Lakad yung iba, at kahit alam naming na maaring malagay sa panganib ang aming kalusugan. Ginawa naming ito dahil gusto namin makatulong hindi lang sa aming pamilya, para din sa ating mga kababayan.” — Michelle Padilla, merchandiser. [We work for our families who depend on us, and to serve people's needs, despite there being no public transportation—some of us have to walk to work—and we put our health and safety at risk. We do this not only to help our families, but our fellow Filipinos.]
Everyone seems to understand that times are different now. There’s a bigger mission that needs to be fulfilled and certain sacrifices are needed to be made. Customer satisfaction is still key to the day-to-day operations.
Affirmations from customers just fuel the passion of the group’s commitment to continue to serve. For some customers, having the supermarket open offers a sense of “normalcy.”
Recent customer feedback during the period of enhanced community quarantine. Robinsons Supermarket/RRHI
In addition to supermarket customers, Robinsons Retail President and CEO Robina Gokongwei Pe also salutes all employees who work in the stores and distribution centers as they continue to brave military checkpoints, the lack of transportation, and worse, the possibility of being infected by COVID-19.
“We are grateful for their perseverance and hard work to maintain the quality of service that we provide to our customers. We would just like to assure them that their efforts are recognized and that we will take care of them. As in the past, we have always been resilient and together we shall succeed,” she said.
Ready for duty at Robinsons Supermarket.
When the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, retail’s story will not only be about lost sales, adjusted operating hours or limited manpower. RRHI Supermarket Segment’s retail story will be more about resilience and faithful commitment to serve its customers and its employees at a time of uncertainty.
“It’s not just any more about the business, but more on the mission. We’re working doubly-hard to provide basic goods much needed by consumers in these difficult times and I am proud to be working side by side with colleagues in a mission-driven company like Robinsons Supermarket,” posted Paul Pasia, IT Manager of Robinsons Supermarket of Robinsons Supermarket, on his Facebook page.
“It is very heartwarming to see there are a lot of employees who came to work. Kahit maglakad papasok at pauwi ng work,” said Anna Torres, Operations Manager of Robinsons Supermarket.
To our retail soldiers, maraming salamat! It's true—everyday heroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.