The story of Susana Canete, a Filipino who left her country for greener pastures, is the kind of happy and successful story that you seldom hear about.
19 years ago Susana left her home country, Philippines, to explore the world and she landed in Singapore.
She worked in Singapore for 11 years, met her husband there, who is a Penangite and got married in 2003.
Susana Canete, 39-years-old, after marrying a Malaysian, adopted the name ‘Susan Moey’, taking her husband’s surname.
She has two young children, aged 6 and 9.
When she was in Penang, she and her husband opened a Filipino restaurant.
After running and managing the restaurant for five years, she began to feel that the food industry was not her true calling.
Talented in business and marketing she decided to put it to good use.
“I asked myself what can I do that, at the same time of making a living, I can also help others, to give and share with the community.
A kind of business that made me connect with people,” she said.
One day, her own countryman who was in Penang, wanted to go back to Philippine and needed to get rid of his belongings.
Susan helped him sell the goods and made money for him to move on.
This inspired the idea behind opening a store that would buy and sell second-hand goods.
“I wanted to help migrant workers and low-income earners make a living,” she explained.
In 2010, she left the restaurant and started a second-hand shop called ‘Value de Cash’, specialising in household and electronic products.
Other items, like men’s clothing and books are both acceptable and available.
The shop is located at a small space on the ground floor of Komtar, a strategic location, since it is in front of Penang Road and near the 4 corners traffic light junction, where many people walk by.
Apart from herself, her shop is manned by her brother, Peter Canete, 32, and a college student who works part-time.
Susan moves about a lot, collecting items for her shop.
She said that there are so many avenues where she can get hold of items that are still good and re-usable.
As her business card states ‘We specialize in moving out, shop closure, upgrading offices, hotels, individual household’ – that’s where she gets the items.
“When I hear of people moving out or a shop going to close, I go there to see what unwanted items they want to throw away.
“I ask them to put aside all their unwanted items and then I check what I need and pay them a price for the items,” she said.
“Or say when a hotel wants to upgrade their faculties, and they want to get rid of the old TV, refrigerator or any electronic products, I make sure I’m there to buy the items from them.
“In other words, I help people to get rid of their uwanted items and they get paid for it!
“Then in selling the items, I’m helping the low income earners.
“So in a way, this business of mine is two-fold in reaching out to the community, and this is what I like doing.
“I’m also helping people who are out of job and need money.
“Instead of turning to crime, to steal, they sell whatever they have to me, to get the money,” she said.
Before she opened the second-hand shop, she did survey the market and found out there was only one other second-hand shop in George Town area that specialize in household/electronic products.
One of the challenge facing her was when she was asked several times why, as a foreigner, she wanted to start a business.
Apparently, many people’s mindset are still such that foreigner must be employers and not boss.
Another challenge is her inability to speak the local language, espeically Bahasa.
She is now trying to learn to speak the language.
Her business got to a tremendous boost when in March last year, a reporter from Utusan Malaysia happened to pass by her shop and impressed by it, decided to do a write-up for her about her shop.
The write-up in Utusan gave her shop much publicity.
Susan related an incident where a young man came to his shop to sell his digital camera.
It was a very old brand and Susan knew it was not worth much so offered to give him RM100.
However, he asked for RM250, saying she need the money as balance amount for his mother’s operation.
Susan was disturbed and thought to herself – should her business sense take over and gave him only RM100 or should her compassion take over?
She finally decided to give him RM200 for the camera.
After about two weeks, Susan was surprised to see the man returning to her shop, with his mother.
The man said he and his mother needed to thank Susan for helping in paying for the operation.
Another incident was when Susan sold a very expensive branded watch to a poor couple.
When she did not know it was a good branded one, where she sold it to them for only RM100.
The Malay couple returned to her shop and told her so that the watch was worth RM3000!
They thanked Susan and said that they would one day sell the watch when they need the money.
It is time like this that make Susan thankful to God that she had really chosen the right business.
What she started, has become a ‘win win situation’ for all – herself, in making some money, the sellers in helping them to recycle their unwanted items and the buyers in getting things they want at a cheap price.