By Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat
Bangkok Post, Thailand.
Twenty years ago, she was just a little girl playing around her mother’s small stall, selling fresh fruit in Pak Khlong Talat, the famous fruit and vegetable wholesale market near the Memorial Bridge popularly known among foreigners as the “Flower Market”.
Nowadays, 30-year-old Watjarin Dejtewandamrong runs the huge Iyara fruit market that sits o a 50-rai plot of land in Pathum Thani province, creating new ways as she goes along to further boost the business her father had left to take charge.
“Dealing with perishable goods, you need to be adventurous and decisive or you will get nothing as fruit rot very quickly. You need to sell them as fast as you can in order to capitalise on good prices when they are still fresh,” says Ms Watjarin.
“You just have accept the losses incurred by fruit that are starting to rot.” It was a valuable advice from her father Suwaj Dejtewandamrong.
Ms Watjarin says her father was a hard-working man who always tried to ensure the financial security of his family. That forced him to leave home for a few months each time he was away to seek good quality fruit across the country in order to help cut the costs charged by the middlemen.
“While I was a child helping my mother sell fruit at Pak Khlong Talat, my father spent up to a few months travelling to the northern provinces to seek premium-grade longan and lychee, which we could sell at a higher margin,” she says.
As business got better, Mr Suwaj was able to expand.
“After spending more than a decade in the fruit business, my father knew every aspect of it,” Ms Watjarin says.
It was through a Malaysian entrepreneur her father befriended that Mr Suwaj got into the fruit export business. He started selling fruit from northern Thailand in Malaysia where consumers considered them rare due to the different soil and weather conditions they grew in — and therefore enticing.