Covid-19 crisis opens up opportunities for Joann V

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She is of course already a full time businesswoman, aside from being a mean Zin ,or zumba instructor. In fact, she has been tagged as Bacolod’s Zumba Queen.
But when the Covid-19 crisis broke out, Joann Visitacion accidentally became the poster girl for a new breed of food entrepreneurs who found unexpected opportunities in the crisis and seized them. She would also become a modern-day palengke queen.

Joann V with SMC’s Jason Villacuatro, Ritchie Magbanua and Rey Geaga.

Joann now sells dried seafoods and marinated chicken cuts. She does this mainly through the internet and word of mouth as she spearheaded a rolling store that goes from village to village. She works hand in hand with Magnolia and K5 Distribution in their Barangay Selling Program which was launched nationwide to address the new realities in a Covikd-scared market.

The dried sea foods business started when she went out to buy dried fish for their consumption and thought of buying for her friends and family as well. They welcomed her product and she slowly started raising her volume. Now she is supplying giant supermarkets and thus Uga @ Iba Pa! , the new business, was born.
The chicken cuts on the other hand started when the Sales Account Specialists of Magnolia Foods Inc Jason Villacuatro and Ritchie Magbanua, asked her if she would want to sell them as stocks were slow in moving. Since the city was under Enhanced Community Quarantine she thought this will give her something to do so she can retain her crew from the canopy rental business instead of sending them home . She said yes and a new venture opened up. Now Madam’s Chicken Jo is making a rave online.

It was just supposedly chicken and other products of their sister companies like Purefoods, Magnolia Foods, Petron Gasul and Nutri Chunks  but Joann brought the idea further. She tapped vendors for veggies and other products to make the mobile market a one stop shop as the city went deep into the ECQ. There was need to keep people mobility low even as they needed to buy their essentials. The Barangay Selling/ Rolling Village market carries items other than Joan’s products. Merczi Bread joined in; now villagers can buy bread, vegetables, ready to eat food and even home cooked specialties. The latest to join the squad is Pizza Hut and King Royce Seafoods. The mobile marketplace goes from place to place, mostly in subdivisions on specific times and dates. Joann announces the schedule on FB.

We now have a total of 18 vendors especially in Villa Angela Village Market where most vendors are also homemakers and with the support of VAHAI 1C HOA, the village association. Joann told The Good Life that when they do barangay selling “tours” she just brings one vendor of each product to avoid competition.

“Being  in the event rental business comes handy since we have everything we need from tents to tables, I don’t have to spend rent on them”

The idea is to bring the market closer to the people by tapping the homeowners associations.  I enjoy doing it – the adrenaline, the preparation and the presentation, she says. “Now I know how it feels to be a “tindera”. Downside is, i don’t know how to say no when one asks for a discount especially when I know one is short of cash. I end up giving the item to them!”

But then, she adds “There is also the  fulfillment of being able to help the community and those small enterpreneurs who cannot do business because of the crisis,” she also says.
It also gives me joy when I see how much they appreciate the opportunity that they get to earn and be able to buy rice for their families in this pandemic.

Joan does not charge the vendors so it isn’t such a surprise they would sometimes give her goods as their way of appreciation While there is no rent the vendors contribute P100 to P200 for the honoraria of the boys who install the tents, the traffic guys and the guards. In return the vendors get a table, chair and a tent

Don’t look now but it looks like after the ECQ, these mobile markets will become the new normal. “A lot of subdivision homeowners associations are requesting if we can still continue doing this even after the ECQ,” Joan says.

I am sure a lot would rather go to an open air market, to avoid long queues and big crowds she adds. “Plus of course, they like the variety of products that we offer not to mention the convenience of having the market close to them, aside from being able to breathe fresh air and shop together with their families which they were deprived of during ECQ she quipped,

And the Rolling Market does not have to stop being what it is now. One exciting thing that came out of this is the plan to eventually create a Salcedo Market kind of place in which they will feature other local food and aggie entrepreneurs in the city.

Joann is hoping to work with Mel Yanson Rivero of  Del Rio Realty bring this one to reality.

Wherever and however else the Rolling Market goes, however. Joann V can rightly say that she was one entrepreneur who wasn’t paralyzed by the fear that Covid-19 brought and instead  turned it into an opportunity and made  her quarantine time very productive indeed!*TGL

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