The Success Story of National Book Store’s Socorro Ramos

The name Socorro “Coring” Ramos may not ring any bells for some people. She, however, is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the Philippines for founding the largest bookstore chain in the country – National Book Store.

Back in 1940, she and Jose Ramos, her husband, established a small stall in Escolta where they sold supplies. They, however, did not have a steady road towards success. In fact, they endured many trials together that would have discouraged most entrepreneurs.

Photo credit: Phils. Star
Photo credit: Phils. Star

During World War II, the Japanese soldiers occupying the country considered many of the books sold in their store to be objectionable. What the couple did was to hide the books and then sell candies, slippers, soaps and other goods instead. The books they managed to save were later sold in their store after the end of the war.

Also, they had to relocate to Avenida because their first building was badly damaged by the war. Three years after that, their bookstore was struck by a heavy typhoon, blowing the roof and damaging many of their merchandise.

This, however, did not deter Coring. Like the mythical phoenix, she rose from the ashes and built the business back up once more.

In the 1970s, National Book Store became popular by selling reprinted versions of foreign textbooks for 75% lesser than the actual price. Parents and students loved the idea of being able to purchase such books for lower costs.

These days, National Book Store already has 160 branches throughout the Philippines along with some mini outlets (National Book Store-Book Express) and specialty bookstores (Powerbooks). As if that wasn’t enough, the Ramos family also operates three publishing imprints, a department store, a music store, plus several convenience and gift shops.

All three of Coring’s children are employed in high-level jobs along with several grandchildren and relatives.

After 70 years of running the business, Coring can really say that persistence is one of the most important keys of achieving great things.

national bookstore socorro ramos
Photo credit: National Book Store / Facebook

Here are some useful business tips from Socorro Ramos:

1. Determine what you want to do and believe in yourself.

According to Nanay Coring, you can dream of becoming a business or being a salesman or just about anything you like. But whatever you choose, be the best you could possibly be in that profession you picked.

2. The customer is important.

Many would say that the customer isn’t always right. While that’s true, of course, Nanay Coring wants you to focus on your customer. Always be humble and try to make your customers feel that they are important. This also means that you have to determine what they want so you can sell it to them.

3. Work very hard.

Nanay Coring points out that there is no elevator to success. You have to work really hard if you want to achieve your dreams.

4. Never be late.

A lot of Filipinos live by the ‘Filipino time’ but for Nanay Coring, that’s a big no-no! Always be on time.

5. Live simply and save up.

Many businesses fail because the owners quickly upgrade their lifestyles. Instead of doing that, use the money you earned to grow your business some more.

6. Love what you do.

Everything will always be hard work if you hate what you do but work will be something you enjoy doing if you change your attitude.

7. Don’t give up.

Things were so difficult when the Ramos couple started out, but they are where they are now because they refused to quit.

8. Invest in your mind.

There are many ways to improve your life and your business. Reading is one of the top sources of knowledge. Nanay Coring recommends buying lots of books – and reading them, of course!

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