Socorro Ramos: Matriarch of National Bookstore

Socorro C. Ramos known as the matriarch of National Bookstore, a major retailer of books, office supplies and greeting cards in the Philippines. In 1965, she and her husband Jose established a nine-storey building along Avenida Rizal, which would be the first National Bookstore. Since then, what has become the Ramos family business has not stopped growing.

In 1940, Socorro Ramos, only 18, began working as a salesperson in Goodwill Bookstore branch owned by his brother in Escolta, Manila. Because of her sales capabilities, Ramos was put in charge of the store.

It was only after her marriage to Jose Ramos that her dream of establishing a National Bookstore has finally materialized. The couple started the first National Book store as a stall shop in Escolta selling supplies, GI novels and textbooks. Unable to pay for extra help, Ramos worked not only as manager but also as a cashier, the buyer, seller, concierge, and an assistant. When war broke out, strict book censorship forced them to shift their trade to soap, candies, and slippers instead.

After the Japanese invasion, the Ramos couple were able to rebuild a barong-barong in the corner of Soler and Avenida Rizal in time to catch the boom of post-war business. Using the door of their house as a counter, Ramos again began selling textbooks, notebooks, writing pads and pencils in time for the first school year after the war. Just like that, National Book Store made its transition from being a general merchandise store to a store that sells books and more. Business went well for the couple mainly because only a few stores sold school supplies during that time.

In 1948, Typhoon Gene came to the Philippines destroying dozens of homes and properties, including the Ramos’. Their house and shop were taken down and all the goods were destroyed after the typhoon. But this did not bring them down. They worked harder, slept only three hours a day spending the rest of their time rebuilding the business. Eventually, through will and determination, the Ramos couple were able to build two-story building complete with mezzanine that would become their store for many years. After more than a decade, Ramos acquired a nine-story building along Avenida Rizal, and in 1963, the construction of the Albecer Building (taken from Ramos’ three children – Alfredo, Benjamin, and Cecilia) started. Little did the Ramos couple know that the Albecer Building would be the first of many buildings they would build. Socorro Ramos now has over 2,500 employees in over 80 branches of her once-small stall. From a humble beginning, Ramos’ National Book Store became the Philippines’ largest chain of bookstores.

The history of National Bookstore

source: wikipilipinas.org

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