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Small mall

By Jullie Y. Daza

ANYONE who lived in Manila knew the name by its location: San Andres fruit market. On a slow day last week, it was a bittersweet discovery to find the market reduced to the shadow of its former fruitful charms.

They have built a mall standing two stories behind a short row of fruit stalls. A small mall with a few fruit stalls, that’s what it is. A landmark has been erased to give way to this Xentro mall. Inside, as it was dinnertime, women on their way home from work dropped by to look for bargains from Thailand and China, a merry jumble of merchandise – garments, shoes, bags, household paraphernalia, toys – spilling out of every direction, on the floor and down to the lobby on the ground floor. Merry Season is the biggest store in the mall, a name I remembered from a few years ago – who could forget a name like that? – when it occupied a building in the un-high end of Makati’s commercial district.

This side of Malate is not high end, either, but that’s Danny Velasco’s market: They want to buy at prices like Divisoria without the hassle of Divi.

The story of Danny Velasco is tailor-made for Holy Week. As his father’s right hand running two huge department stores in Sta. Cruz and Carriedo, a job that forced him out of college, he never tasted the wild and crazy joys of being a teenager. When his father died, a series of legal moves and missteps initiated by his heirs ended in the collapse of Plaza Fair and Fair Center, at that time the only alternative to SM, which was multiplying, richer, taller, wider by the day.

Danny and Plaza Fair dropped out of sight, but who knew that he had been committed by his siblings to an “institution,” where he would stay for three years until a court order produced by “an angel from heaven” – it’s a long story – rescued him. Are the family squabbles over yet? Meantime he is happy doing “the only thing I know.”

“I’m a simple retailer, I don’t dream big dreams anymore,” said this many-time victim of fate and family.

Well, Danny boy, you can look forward to a resurrection in retailing and relating with the small people – such as OFW families – who shop to their hearts’ content in their small malls.