Saturday, February 03, 2007

Hoskyn's: The Country's First Department Store

Here is another interesting article written by Professor Henry Funtecha in The News Today about Hoskyn's Department Store, reputed to be the very first department store in the Philippines. I think present-day mall rats would find it really interesting to learn that Ilonggos have been at it since the 1880s. Read on...

"By the second half of the 19th century, Iloilo became the undisputed leader among the provinces in Western Visayas. Not only was it the biggest in population, it was the largest in agricultural production, the most active in manufacturing, and one of the best instructed among the provinces, according to John Bowring, Governor of Hongkong, who visited Iloilo in 1858 (Bowring, 1963).

Because of the expansion of trade and the rapid growth of business and economic activities in Panay and Negros due primarily to the boom in the sugar industry resulting from the opening of the Iloilo Port to world commerce in 1855, native and foreign firms established themselves in the town of Iloilo. These firms built permanent offices and outlets along the Iloilo wharf and the streets that branched out from the waterfront. Banks, machine shops, printing presses, educational institutions, medical facilities, and social clubs came into being. Residential buildings multiplied and provided the town of Iloilo a highly urbanized character. The town of Iloilo subsequently developed into one of the most important commercial centers in the Philippines outside of Manila. On October 5, 1889, the Queen Regent of Spain raised the town to the status of a city.

The Iloilo waterfront (now Muelle Loney), considered as the hub of Iloilo's trade, was an entrepot of British and Chinese merchants in the 1880s, not to mention American, Basque, Catalan, Danish, Portuguese, Swiss and Filipino entrepreneurs. Calle Real (now J.M. Basa Street), situated in the heart of downtown Iloilo, served as the main shopping center of the town. In the 1880s, even before it was elevated into a city, it was already where most of the town's business establishments and large residential houses were found. Filipino, American, European and Chinese retail stores lined up along its length.

An essential component of the sugar trade at the Port of Iloilo was the availability of bodegas or warehouses to store sugar. At the heart of the waterfront stood a long line of offices and bodegas owned by the leading commercial houses operating in Calle Real and elsewhere in the town. Some of these included those of Miguel Medina, Julian Hernaez, Vicente Gay, the Scot Macleod, Ernest Oppen, Ynchausti y ca., and the Swiss Frederick Luchsinger (Contribuciones industriales, Iloilo).

In 1877, the Englishman Henry Hoskyn, nephew of Nicholas Loney, the first British vice-consul in Iloilo, paid P17,000 for the house and lot at the midpoint of Calle Real which became the site of the town's renowned luxury Hoskyn Department Store, reputed to be the Philippines' first real department store. It was also claimed as the first to introduce the “fixed price” policy in merchandising in the country and was known to be “the store that sold everything from needle to anchor”. It offered groceries, hardware, stationery, toys, watches, jewelry, machinery, buttons, threads, etc. (Articulos que ordinariamente reciben y venden Hoskyn y ca. del comercio de Iloilo, 1895).

In the 1880s, among the business firms that were doing business in Calle Real, aside from Hoskyn's, were Streif & Co. (Swiss), Ynchausti y cia. (Spanish), El Louvre (French), Lizarraga Hermanos (Spanish), and Levy Hermanos & Co. (French). These establishments were noted merchants, capitalists and large commodities brokers. There were also other European and American firms dealing in maritime and fire insurance. Also, a number of European specialty shops and retail stores were on hand selling hats, watches, naval supplies, etc. A piano studio, tailoring and machine shops were, moreover, available. Furthermore, here was located Spanish and native establishments like Bazar Cosmopolitan, Cafe Colon, La Puerta del Sol, La Espega de Oro, La Zaragoza, and Tordecillas y ca. There was also German-owned drugstore called Botica Antigua (Protocols 1601, Yloilo, March 31, 1887; Contribuciones industriales, Iloilo).

Banks promptly opened their branches in Iloilo town in this period and they were placed at Calle Real near Plaza Alfonso XII (now Plaza Libertad). These banks were the Chartered Bank and the Hongkong & Shanghai Bank. Hotels were also found in Calle Real like the Casa de Hespedes and Fonda la Espanola located just off the far-end of the Plaza."


jay said...

Interesting article , this article make some interesting points.

department store information

dafberry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CP Naraja said...

Do you have old pictures of Hoskyn Department Store?