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'We will put the Christmas spirit in your home'

By MILLET M. MANANQUIL, The Philippine STAR Published Oct 17, 2020 5:00 pm

There’s no truth to the fake news that Christmas this year will be postponed.

Our world has been bleak during this pandemic, but there are people who always take positive steps to cheer us up and help the country move forward.

In the retail industry, the leaders are doing their best to bring the “merry” to Christmas 2020.

"We want to make sure the spirit of Christmas will be alive in your homes,” says Anton T. Huang, president of Stores Specialists, Inc. (SSI), during a Zoom media conference hosted by SSI and the Rustan Group.

As if to make us relive the joy and nostalgia of Christmases past, Dina Tantoco, Rustan’s marketing and communications head, says the store will unveil its Christmas windows on Oct. 24 with a traditional theme. “We want to bring warmth to your homes,” Dina says. Rustan’s is your home for Christmas — this is the feel the store wants for its customers.

Anton Huang, president of SSI Group Inc. and Rustan executive vice  president
Dina Tantoco, Rustan marketing communications manager

Speaking of feelings, we asked Anton about touching moments that the pandemic has made him experience as a retailer. “Yes, I saw the Filipinos’ sense of malasakit when our employees went to work despite difficulties in transportation. This was especially true in Shake Shack, which was already operational in April, just a month after COVID-19 became an epidemic here. They’re our own frontliners. It was very heartwarming to see them go out of their way for the company.”

As a father and husband — the hardworking Anton who says that for the past 20 years he was away for business trips half of the time — it was the pandemic that made him and his family relish the pleasures of being “stuck” together.

His smart and pretty daughter Nikki Huang, a Boston University student, says: “Now I realize that being away has taught me the true spirit of Christmas.” A Filipino Christmas, for sure.

Nikki Huang, a Boston University student, co-hosted the Zoom media conference
Michael Huang, Rustan vice president for store development and expansion

Shopping has always been part of the joys of Christmas, and Rustan’s makes sure it’s a safe and confident shopping experience, says Michael T. Huang, Rustan’s vice president for store development and expansion.

“All stocks from the warehouse are sanitized before they are brought to the store,” Michael points out.

There are masks and shields for customers. Details like sanitizing fitting rooms after every use, and letting customers wear socks when trying out shoes, are so very Rustan’s.

What are people buying in these unusual times? 

“Footwear, but more of casuals and sneakers,” says Anton. “Clothes, but more of casuals. Toys and children’s stuff to keep the kids busy at home. More of skincare products than makeup. Home products are doing well. Also bags and accessories. And people are still buying the luxury brands — these are resilient.”

The good news from Anton is that online sales at have experienced 1,000 percent growth from January till the present, and e-commerce for SSI has seen 450 percent growth.

Whether from brick-and-mortar sales or online purchases, Rustan’s wishes everything will go up each day.

And what is everyone's Christmas wish? Was it David Celdran or Rico Hizon from the Zoom participants who said “All I want for Christmas is a vaccine”?


Christmas at Rustan's: The good news

  • Rustan’s Personal Shopper On Call. Starting Oct. 24, you can just call the universal number 0917-1111952 for a stress-free way to shop. Faster and easier, this service is done online, including payment. Free delivery at your doorstep is offered for a minimum purchase.
  • Christmas Gift Registry. The receivers make a wish list, and the store delivers your gifts, gift-wrapped, to your recipients’ homes. This is both for adults and kids. Santa’s elves will help deliver the kids’ presents.
  • Santa Claus On Call. You wish it, and Santa and his elves can have a Zoom storytelling and photo-taking with your kids! Children can write letters to Santa at [email protected] and send him their top three Christmas wishes. Rustan’s will choose three lucky letters to grant one gift for each kid, and deliver to their home address.
  • Home for Christmas Virtual Microsite. Customers can view all holiday content, including home decorating tips, videos of performances, gift suggestions and schedules of all upcoming and online activities.
  • Two-day Holiday Promo on Nov. 7 and 8. Enjoy 0-percent installment for 3, 6, and 12 months across all major banks with a minimum single-receipt purchase worth P3,000, P10,000 and P20,000 respectively. For FSP members, five times the points will be rewarded during the two-day promo.
  • Home Decoration Choices. Rustan’s offers many options for your Christmas tree and theme . And because we now have the time to decorate and renovate our homes, Rustan’s with its home furnishing department, care of Rustan’s VP for merchandising Marilen Tantoco,makes it easy for shoppers.

Follow the author on Instagram and Facebook@milletmartinezmananquil. Email her at [email protected].