Virginia Victor should have been enjoying her retirement already — lounging in a reclining sofa at home and watching her grandchildren frolic in their living room.
Instead, the 66-year-old grandmother spends most of her week at a mall watching over her antique business, a venture she has been running all by herself for over 30 years.
“I am 66 years old. Of course, I feel exhausted every now and then, but I am happy. I enjoy what I am doing,” Victor told Cebu Daily News.
The enterprise — now known as Virginia’s Antiques — started out as a hobby more than three decades ago, with Victor having been influenced by her mother, who was an avid home décor collector.
Her hobby turned into a business when she had to raise her three children on her own, the youngest being one year old at that time, after her estranged husband left her for another woman.
She was driven out of her mother-in-law’s house in Laguna and, for a time, was clueless about what she was going to do next.
But Victor persevered, having sold underwear for women, ready-to-wear clothes, and eventually antique items from all over the Philippines.
The entrepreneur said she was thankful that all those years, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) was very active in promoting the growth of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
She would join seminars mounted by the agency as well as trade exhibits all over the country, from which she learned everything that she knows today.
It was in 2000 when she organized an antique show in Cebu City in time for the Sinulog festivities.
“Sales were good. I saw that there wasn’t that much competition in Cebu. I was happy here and so I decided to stay,” said Victor.
During that time, the antique show generated a revenue of P250,000.
Victor reckoned that because there weren’t that many antique stores in the city, collectors bought items from the show as if they were “shopping at the grocery.”
High profile clients
Among her buyers then were the Lhuilliers, Gullases, Gos, Duranos, and other high-profile Cebuanos.
“I’ve gotten used to the market here. I know the trend. They want good-looking pieces with very good quality,” said Victor.
Victor has sold pieces as old as 400 years old, including excavated plates, jars, jarlets, and beads. She also deals images of saints.
She recently moved from an eight-year-old store along Plaridel Street in Cebu City to a rented stall at the SM City Cebu Trade Hall.
The dealer said demand for antique pieces today has not waned since more than 10 years ago, especially because Cebu City is booming.
“Many houses need furnishing, many hotels need decorations. Antiques have a niche market, its own clientele, unlike food,” she added.
Victor said she spent P5,000 as capital for her antique business back then and although her venture has grown to what it is today, she used all her profit to take care of her children.
“There wasn’t any money. I was a single mom and the children were going to school. The income just rolled and rolled, but at least they finished their education,” she said.
Her daughters Annalisa and Jennifer are dentists while her son Dodie Jr. is an engineer.
Victor has six grandchildren, three of whom are with her in her house in Lapu-Lapu City.
She also recalled the challenges of running a business while raising her children where she could not grab every opportunity thrown at her then.
But now that her children are all grown up and successful in their lives, she could run off to meet clients, attend prayer meetings, and not worry about the children anymore.
While buying and selling antique pieces is the core of her business, Victor said she could not depend on the venture alone.
“In the antique business, it’s a one time-big time thing. Sometimes, you sell nothing at all. If you depend on antiques, you’ll have a hard time finding your next meal,” she said.
She also manages an eatery and a souvenir shop on top of her antique business, which she described as “for everyday” enterprises.
After all these years, Victor said she continues to draw her motivation from the Lord and her family, as well as seeing her clients happy.
In the next three years, Victor, who sees a great potential of the business in the country and even abroad, said she hopes to develop a group of employees that will nurture her business.