The store is abuzz with customers, busily reading the labels and gasping with pleasant surprise as they identify the producers of the different products.
Launched in November of 2004 and formerly known as the OTOP Pasalubong Center, the OTOP Tindahang Pinoy in Gaisano, Jose Rosales Avenue, Butuan City houses a delightful array of products from all over Caraga.
Preparations for its launch started as early as 2002, when now-Provincial Director of DTI- Agusan del Norte Gay A. Tidalgo, together with Engr. Renato S. Corvera, who used to be Gaisano’s Manager, travelled all the way to the Gaisano City Mall in Cagayan de Oro City to seek an audience with the Gaisano patriarch, Don Stephen Sy Gaisano.
After three arduous but hopeful attempts to ask for assistance in finding a home for the OTOP Tindahang Pinoy, the Don finally agreed and identified a 21-square meter space at the mall’s ground floor and granted a discounted rental fee of P20,000 a month with no increase for the next five years.
PD Gay A. Tidalgo first identified CREATE Food as partners to run the store at an P80,000 budget on the condition that they would receive subsidy for their overhead expenses only for the first six months of operation. In return, CREATE Food would get three percent from the gross profit.
CREATE Food soon found that pioneering a fledgling store atop attending to obligations as producers was not as easy as they thought it would be. In 2007, after a series of interventions from the DTI- Agusan del Norte that included organizational strengthening, among others, the OTOP Tindahang Pinoy finally found structure and organizational stability through the active leadership of Manager Kerwin S. Uy.
Today, it can be said that the first-ever OTOP Tindahang Pinoy in Butuan City is among the most-visited stores at the Gaisano Mall.
Enjoying sales of 1.2M per month in the last two years, sales soar to more than 2M during the peak seasons of April to June, when balikbayans return to Butuan to celebrate the town fiesta and from October to December, when Butuanons fly home to be with family and friends.
The customers leave with packages in hand, the excitement of buying local still on their faces. (DTI-Agusan del Norte/PIA-Agusan del Norte)