Cherries PHP800-1,500 a kilo!
Definitely not a common fruit choice. But every once in a while, I get a hankering for cherries, say once or twice a year, and feel the urge to splurge. So at Divisoria a few days ago (yes, I was there in the sweltering heat buying packaging materials), I spotted a street side vendor with surprisingly fresh looking cherries and was told they were PHP800 a kilo (roughly $18.5 per kilo or $8.50 per pound). Admittedly out a bit early for North America or europe (I can’t imagine they are from Australia or New Zealand at this time of year) where they peak in June or so, I was tempted. I tried to bargain but the vendor wouldn’t budge, and even the calculation that PHP200 would yield me 1/4 kilo didn’t do the trick, and I walked away. Later the same day, I chanced on cherries at S&R Taguig, and was shocked to see a price tag of PHP1,500 a kilo! Nearly double the Divisoria price! I realize it’s a free market and all, but this just goes to show that if you don’t know your prices, you could seriously pay a huge differential from other places in town. So okay, okay, Divi to Taguig is a hassle in distance, but just down the road at Metro Gaisano at Market!Market! mall, cherries could be had for PHP977 a kilo… Wild. Thank goodness in a few weeks more time I shall have access to the peak of North American cherry season and I hope they are say $3-5 a pound so I can indulge to my heart’s content. I know, I know, don’t eat too many or you’ll have the runs. :)
Mud Crabs / Alimango PHP400 – 899 a kilo!
I love alimango. Chili crabs, garlic crabs, sotanghon crabs, chilled crab claws with cocktail sauce, etc. At the Nasugbu market, PHP400 a kilo (turns out they are “imported” from elsewhere and are NOT abundant in the local area. PHP400-600 on the Tagaytay ridge from road side vendors, depending on your bargaining capacity (they whisper quietly on pressing that the crabs come all the way from Bulacan!). At the seaside market, for the finest specimens, say PHP400-450 from our crab dealer suki, with some of them weighing close to 3/4 kilo each. But at a Makati grocery, PHP899 a kilo for the same darned crabs! Sorry, but that’s just outrageous. More than double the price of Baclaran? It’s worth your gas to drive the little distance if you need to buy just 1-2 kilos!
Dry Pasta Prices PHP45 – PHP125 per pound
Standard 500 gram or 1 pound packages of dried pasta from spaghetti, penne, etc. So the brands vary and the quality of flour and other ingredients vary dramatically. But I suspect if you picked the three best brands you can find, and compare across various outlets, you would be shocked to find out that you could be paying almost double the price from one venue to another. I like S&L for great dried pasta and arborio prices (not to mention all their other stuff like cheese) that run say PHP50 or so for a pound of pasta. In the malls and large groceries, you’ll be paying up to PHP110-120 for similar quality products.
Woks from PHP400-600 at different branches of the same chain of stores!
I bought a cheap wok with a handle in Cebu to try out and got it for PHP454 or so. Back in Manila, I went to a branch of the same restaurant supplies store, and spotted the same wok. I ask how much and they say PHP580 or 600 or so. Shocked, I told the saleslady I just bought the exact same item in Cebu two days before for PHP454, and she quickly said they would give it to me for PHP400 instead! Yikes. No wonder they had no price tags, the prices are completely fluid! How annoying is that?
Chairs PHP5,900 – 6,900 some 40 meters apart!
I have been madly searching for reasonably priced, durable and attractive restaurant chairs. We had exhausted all known sources in Cebu, and I had spent a morning in Manila checking out half a dozen sources. First of all, a pet peeve. Everyone has dozens of floor samples, but when I asked if they had 40-50 in stock, the inevitable answer was first, a slight look of shock and widened eyes accompanied by raised eyebrows and slightly opened mouth, then the answer, “ay walang stock!” I can understand that happening once, but the same answer for 8-10 different models requested? Why do stores have so many frigging floor samples if they only have 1 chair in stock, the floor sample? And I am not talking about rinky dink small shops, but the biggest suppliers and retail chains that carry chairs… :( I found a very cool looking chair on the fourth floor of megamall, but nearly fainted at the PHP5,900 peso price tag, so I walked some 40 meters down the hall and spotted the EXACT same chair in EXACTLY the same color. The price? PHP6,900! When I mentioned to the sales person that the shop down the hall also had the chair in their window for PHP1,000 less, he just shrugged his shoulders…
Placemats (Chilewich and copies…) PHP 59.95 – PHP799.95!
I have always liked the design, practicality and look of these original Chilewich placemats, in the top photo in this link. Sister watches out for them on sale in her part of the world and has sent a couple of dozen our way over the past 7-8 years. They are washable, stain resistant, but look quite presentable. They were made with a “revolutionary” plastic or synthetic material when they first came out, and they were woven like mats or baskets. A few years ago, I noticed that VERY VERY close copies were coming out of China, and I bought these at Shoemart home store for just PHP79 per piece. They are good approximations of the real thing, but the colors are a bit off and the suppleness of the synthetic material differs oh so slightly. Fast forward to restaurant madness and I was seeking a particular design of placemat, but didn’t find the ones I wanted, but discovered that AUTHENTIC Chilewich products are carried at a home store in Serendra (not sure of the name) and at Shoemart Home Store in the basement of Megamall. The price of a real Chilewich place mat? PHP799.95 or so per piece. How odd that carried by the same parent company, SM, in their home section of their department stores, are the similar Chinese sourced placemats for just PHP59.95, down PHP20 from 3 years ago! If I were Chilewich, I’d be annoyed. :(
The moral of the post. Shop around if you don’t want to pay ridiculous prices. I realize time is money and all that, but if you think your convenience is worth so much, at least run the numbers once in a while to make sure that’s still true. :)