Vunidamu Variety Shop expands

"Together, we can achieve anything."

Ask the owners of the Vunidamu Variety Shop at Salelologa in Savai'i, and they will tell you just that. 

The family's business used to operate out of a small shop on family land across the street from the Bluebird mall at Salelologa. 

Mrs. Temukisa Yuhoi said their business started from humble beginnings and despite many other businesses being greatly affected by state of emergency lockdowns and restrictions, the Pauli Yuhoi family has bucked the trend and managed to expand. 

Something Mrs. Yuhoi said was made possible because of the constant push and support of their relatives and friends. 

"We operated our business in a small shop from the very beginning and we stopped for a while after our mother got sick," she told Samoa Observer. 

"So we then opened a sewing shop to use the small knowledge and talents we have, so we can serve our community.

"All the people that we have as workers are all our relatives. They are my cousins and they all help out with sewing, printing materials, and things like that. That was back when we had a small shop.

"At the same time, we relied heavily on our plantation and vegetable garden to also generate income to assist us with running the store."

Said Mrs. Yuhoi, the biggest challenge they faced was the rise in the number of Chinese-owned supermarkets at Salelologa.

"That was the biggest challenge we faced because as you can see, we are surrounded by Chinese shops here at Salelologa, so we've had really bad days in terms of sales. 

"So we had to come up with an idea of setting up a different kind of business so we can make good use of our family land, and decided to expand our shop and include everything under one roof. 

"We now we have a sewing shop, an eatery, and coffee shop, and a store all under this building. We just wanted to make good use of our land here and do our best to serve our people well. 

"We know we can never compete with the Chinese shops, but we thought it would be best that we focus on developing and expanding our business instead of looking at competing with the other shops." 

So what's the key to the success of their business? 

"I am a strong believer that when people work together, magic happens," said Mrs. Yuhoi. 

"For this project, we could not have made this dream come true without the strong support of our sisters, brothers, and relatives near and far. 

"The support has been unreal and something we are forever grateful for is the love of family and friends. 

"At one point, we thought of giving up and forget whatever plan we had, but they kept pushing us and motivated us to keep on keeping on and also went as far as lending their hand whenever we needed help. 

"So the strong support and love of our families and friends is to be credited for the success of this project. 

"That's one thing I learned from the Chinese and how they do business. They help each other and they work together, and I believe that if we also do the same, we can achieve great things."

Mrs. Yuhoi could not recall when they first opened their small shop at Salelologa. However, she said they built the business to what it is now from scratch. 

"I can't remember the first time we opened up the small shop we had back then. But I remember we started from humble beginnings. That is why we are grateful to everyone that contributed to making this dream a reality because we wouldn't have been able to get it done without their push and support. 

"It is true that our businesses have been greatly affected because of the lockdown and the economic crisis because of the global pandemic, but as I said, when people work together to achieve something, it can be done and the impossible becomes possible."

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