PR Newswire

Recognizing the Postwar Filipino’s need for dignity that inspired SM’s dream

PASAY CITY, Philippines, Oct. 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — As a result of widespread bombing during the Second World War, Manila was among the most destroyed cities in the world. Henry Sy or Tatang (father) as he was fondly called, observed how the hardships of the previous years had taken their toll on Filipinos. Many of them lost everything, down to their shoes, even resorting to walking around barefoot.

Tatang recognized that shoes were an important symbol of a person’s dignity which millions had lost during the war. Tatang found for himself a new dream: shoes for every Filipino.

He put up a small store called Plaza Shoe Store in 1948 and later Park Avenue in the 1950s that began selling shoes at affordable prices to Filipinos who, like him, were eager to start their lives again.

Park Avenue in the 1950s

His store achieved modest success, enough for him to need more steady sources for shoes. He decided to pay a visit to the United States to look for suppliers and to closely study and understand the world of retailing and marketing in New York, Boston and other European markets. He visited large department stores and trade fairs, eager to learn more as he harbored a larger vision of establishing a whole chain of stores.

A customer is helped by an SM saleslady in one of SM’s earlier stores in Rizal Avenue in the 1950s

In 1958, on Avenida Rizal, he opened a new shoe store under a new name: Shoemart. It would be followed by another on Carriedo Street—and soon another. In the late 70s, as his stores grew in size and scale, his shoe store would become a department store, just like those he had seen in America. Tatang renamed his stores from Shoemart to SM. SM’s wide and varied offerings were famously captured in the tagline “We’ve Got it All!” which survives to this day.

Tatang’s business flourished for over six decades, with over 3,300 retail stores and outlets all over the country, serving tens of millions of Filipinos and global customers.  

The SM Group continues to be inspired by the needs and the dreams of the many generations of stakeholders it serves.

Mr. Sy at a footwear exposition in Jinjiang in 1999

Tatang’s original vision, itself inspired by the needs of his fellow Filipinos, lives on in everything the SM Group creates and nourishes. On this Super Month, SM celebrates the value of nurturing a vision.


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