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1 “Rus­tan’s” is a port­man­teau of the founders’ last names, Rus­tia and Tantoco. But it was al­most Tan­rus. “But my grand­fa­ther de­cided, ‘Pan­git. Walang pupunta.’ The de­ci­sion to make it Rus­tan’s gave it a more fem­i­nine touch, from the logo to the prod­ucts we first car­ried.”


The first Tantoco home was on Qual­ity Street. “I was read­ing a book on Manila by Nick Joaquin and re­al­ized that the first house my lolo built for her so that he could prove to her fam­ily that he was wor­thy of her was on Qual­ity Street. I don’t know if see­ing that ev­ery day some­how had an ef­fect on them, but qual­ity is cer­tainly what Rus­tan’s is about.”

3 The man who thought of coin­ing the name “Rus­tan” was Jessie Belo, who used to do the mar­ket­ing for the Rufino the­aters and was a good friend of the am­bas­sador.

4 Hol­ly­wood and films played a role in what set Rus­tan’s apart. “Re­tail is the­ater. Re­tail is art. My lolo used to work with the Rufi­nos in their movie the­ater busi­ness and go to Hol­ly­wood, es­sen­tially as a buyer of movies and meet with all the ma­jor stu­dios then. So very early on, he and my grand­mother saw that re­tail, at least the way we wanted to do it, was not just a nec­es­sary trans­ac­tion— there had to be a sense of en­ter­tain­ment about it.”


Fem­i­nism as a re­tail strat­egy. “I have learned many lessons from my grand­fa­ther, but the great­est may be that a wo­man feels her most pow­er­ful when she feels her most beau­ti­ful. And that’s why we have to give her ev­ery­thing that makes her feel that way: bags, shoes, makeup per­fume, ev­ery­thing! My grand­fa­ther knows more about women than any­one else I know, and that’s a big part of Rus­tan’s! I al­ways ask him if there’s some­thing that baf­fles me about women.”


The idea of com­bin­ing a de­part­ment store and a su­per­mar­ket came from trips to Tokyo. “My lola saw the stores in Ja­pan, with the gro­cery in the base­ment floor and the de­part­ment store on the top floors. No one was do­ing that here and so when they got the of­fer to build a store in Makati, they wanted to do that here too.”

13 Though Rus­tan’s is pri­mar­ily associated with pre­mier im­ported goods, its first spe­cialty de­part­ment was Our Very Own, a sec­tion of Filip­ini­ana prod­ucts, es­tab­lished just a few years af­ter the found­ing in 1952.

7 The de­ci­sion to move to Makati all came down to friend­ship. “One of the Ayala ex­ec­u­tives was a good friend of my grand­par­ents, and there re­ally wasn’t any­thing yet in Makati. I guess you could just chalk it up to en­trepreneurial dar­ing. They also told them that they could pick any spot, and we’re still there.”

8 All the Tantoco chil­dren had to learn how to gift-wrap and to this day, all the Tantoco daugh­ters per­son­ally wrap their Christmas gifts. “The in­struc­tional video that all em­ploy­ees watch to learn how to wrap stars my Ni­nang Nedy!” Don­nie says with ten­der fond­ness and a hearty laugh. Ni­nang Nedy is Ze­naida Tantoco, el­dest daugh­ter among the Tan­to­cos and the com­pany chair­per­son.

9 Shop­ping is a play­ground, lit­er­ally. “When the chil­dren’s de­part­ment was new, my dad had just passed a play­ground with toy ele­phants and tigers, and de­cided that was how he wanted that de­part­ment to look like. So they brought an ac­tual play­ground to the store, and the kids would sit on the an­i­mals when they had to try on stuff!”

10 Rus­tan’s is the only store out­side the US with Oleg Cassini mer­chan­dise. “It still does well! It may not be as fa­mous as it used to be, but my grand­fa­ther in­sists that we still stock it be­cause it was among the first brands that sup­ported us. He al­ways says that in busi­ness, it will be the re­la­tion­ships that you build, and the trust that comes out of it that will sus­tain you. And he’s ab­so­lutely right!”

11 Rus­tan’s Fash­ion Av­enue was the first bou­tique within a store lay­out in the coun­try and it fea­tured big fash­ion names: Lan­vin, Nina Ricci, Emanuel Un­garo, Guy Laroche, Bill Blass, Yves Saint Lau­rent, Sonia Rykiel and, of course, Oleg Cassini.

12 The su­per­mar­ket had the same ap­proach to ev­ery­day gro­cery items as to its fash­ion and beauty of­fers. Rus­tan’s in­tro­duced the idea that su­per­mar­ket goods could also be lux­ury items. “We were the first to bring in Chupa Chups and Kikko­man,” Don­nie shares. His first job in Rus­tan’s was in the su­per­mar­ket. “I had to stock shelves, work in cus­tomer care and goods re­ceiv­ing. My salary was ham­burg­ers!”

14 When Rus­tan’s first came out with a house brand called Lady Rus­tan’s, founder Glecy Tantoco per­son­ally chose all the items. “My first time to travel was when I was 11 years old on a busi­ness trip to Hong Kong, and my lola was choos­ing buck­les for bags. I hadn’t eaten lunch and was starv­ing. So I fi­nally told her and she took pity on me. But she just took out some bis­cuits, handed them to me and just went straight back to work.”

15 For the long­est time, the Rus­tan’s tagline was “Where shop­ping is a plea­sure.” But for the 30th an­niver­sary, it launched the tagline “You’re my kind of store.”


Also on their 30th year, with stores in Makati, Cubao, Cebu and Har­ri­son Plaza, Rus­tan’s had re­tail space of 48,640 square me­ters.


When the founders were start­ing, they trained sales staff to mem­o­rize the prices and sto­ries of all the prod­ucts. “The old­timers told me that they were not al­lowed to look at the price tags. My lola also told them that in­stead of say­ing the price, they had to say first where the item was made; for ex­am­ple, ‘This prod­uct is made by the old­est com­pany in Firenze in Italy.’ Once the cus­tomer heard the story, they care more about that than the price it­self.”


Spe­cialty shops launched that are still part of the store are Sil­ver Vault for fine jewelry and watches, and Rus­tan’s Flower Shop.


Rus­tan’s had the first art gallery within a de­part­ment store called Ga­lerie Bleue.


There has al­ways been a Cartier shop on the first floor by the shop’s en­trance. To launch the Cartier San­tos watch, im­ported laser­beam ma­chines were used in the first ever lo­cal fash­ion show to do so.

21 It’s timely that 2017 is also the 70th year of Dior’s New Look; af­ter all, Rus­tan’s col­lab­o­rated with the House of Dior for its first off­shore li­cense. Glency Tantoco sought out Chris­tian Dior him­self to pro­pose that Dior de­signs be man­u­fac­tured with the finest ma­te­ri­als in Filipino ate­liers. Dior agreed to the ar­range­ment and the brand be­came lo­cally avail­able only at Rus­tan’s.


A beauty first was its French Fra­grance Fes­ti­val with the iconic per­fumes of Chris­tian Dior, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Lau­rent, Paco Ra­banne, Par­fums Rochas and Van Cleef & Ar­pels.


The fol­low­ing leg­endary brands were brought in by Rus­tan’s: Yard­ley, Mary Quant, Lancôme and He­lena Ru­bin­stein.


Rus­tan’s launched the first youth-themed group, the Young Ex­pres­sive Set, which was then re­named The Young VIP Coun­cil. “They were the in­flu­encers be­fore there were in­flu­encers.”


Some no­table past mem­bers of the Young VIP Coun­cil were: Meg Paris, Tina Revilla, Cherie Gil, Bing Pi­mentel, Monique Wil­son and for­mer Miss In­ter­na­tional Aurora Pi­juan.


In the club: Rus­tan’s in­tro­duced a pro­mo­tion named The Spice of Life that not only gave away a prize, but also gave one mem­ber­ship to a home­own­ers cir­cle that made them el­i­gi­ble for dis­counts and in-store ac­tiv­i­ties.


Go­ing flat: Rus­tan’s was the first store to give away three con­do­mini­ums as prizes in a raf­fle dubbed “El­e­gant Liv­ing.”


Rus­tan’s was among the first stores to give dis­counts to ac­cred­ited ar­chi­tects and in­te­rior de­sign­ers.


Rus­tan’s Su­per­mar­ket was the first to dis­play ap­pli­ances in a gro­cery set­ting.


Rus­tan’s pi­o­neered the Na­tional Fes­ti­val, high­light­ing a coun­try and its prod­ucts with events like Buon Giornio Italia and The Bri­tish Fort­night.


They re­branded their Filip­ini­ana divi­sion as Our Very Own in the mid-80s.


The store-within-a-store con­cept ex­panded to the su­per­mar­ket with a con­fec­tionery shop Bon Ap­petit and wine and spir­its shop The Vine­yard.


The first cook­ing demon­stra­tion in a store was done by culi­nary doyenne Nora Daza, who was then as­sisted by her now restau­ra­teur son Sandy.


To fur­ther so­lid­ify their cus­tom of per­sonal ser­vice, Rus­tan’s of­fers mono­gram em­broi­dery, bronz­ing of baby shoes, en­grav­ing and etch­ing.


For their 30th or pearl an­niver­sary, Glecy Tantoco wrote: “Rus­tan’s has al­ways geared ev­ery as­pect of its op­er­a­tions to shop­pers’ needs and ex­pec­ta­tions.” Am­bas­sador Benny Tantoco, also on the same oc­ca­sion, de­clared: “We adopt prac­tices that make shop­ping a pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence.”


This ethos saw it­self con­cretely car­ried out in the small white plaques that were placed on all the store dis­plays: “Please han­dle our mer­chan­dise. You’ll love it.”


The home sec­tion bragged these her­itage brands on its ros­ter: Daum, Wedge­wood, Lalique, Swarovski, Oneida and Sevres. Re­cent ad­di­tions in­clude Bernar­daud, Meis­sen and Ralph Lau­ren and Kate Spade home lines.


Some of the first lux­ury watches sold at the Sil­ver Vault were Chopard, Mo­vado and Vacheron Con­stantin. Rus­tan’s also fa­mously in­tro­duced Philippe Char­riol to the coun­try. Last year Dami­ani’s line that ben­e­fits im­pov­er­ished African vil­lages was in­tro­duced by brand am­bas­sador for­mer foot­ball player and men’s fash­ion star Hidetoshi Nakata.


Stock­ings were not read­ily avail­able in post­war Manila. When Glecy filled sev­eral suit­cases and sur­prised her clients with their first glimpse of hosiery, her stash quickly sold out.


Rus­tan’s house brands have be­come lo­cal house­hold words. Mon­sieur Rus­tan’s and Lady Ex­ec­u­tive Stage 7 were lines for cor­po­rate clothes; Rus­tanette for chil­dren, and Lady Rus­tan is still a store fave.


Manna by Ba­bette Aquino was also an early fa­vorite.


Due by Rhett Eala, now bet­ter known for cou­ture gowns, was also a pop­u­lar choice of lo­cal fash­ion fol­low­ers.


Rus­tan’s in­tro­duced the per­sonal shop­per, that spe­cial blend of life coach and style life­saver, and the first ever per­sonal shop­per was lo­cal swan Chona Kas­ten.


Men’s faves Dun­hill and Ermenegildo Zegna are tai­lor­ing clas­sics and mar­quee names of the Rus­tan’s men’s divi­sion.


The chil­dren’s de­part­ment pi­o­neered kid­die clubs with the Rus­tan’s Baby Club and Rain­bow Rid­ers.


To in­tro­duce new brands, Glecy Tantoco would in­vite life­style edi­tors and mag­a­zine writ­ers for spe­cial one-on-one tours to de­scribe the ac­tual mer­chan­dise and con­cepts be­hind the dis­plays. Don­nie smiles and con­cedes, “There was only one GRT and no one can ever do it the way she did.” 48 When Rus­tan’s did the first ma­jor ren­o­va­tion of their Makati store and Glecy Tantoco was based in Morocco, ar­chi­tec­tural plans had to be scaled so that they could fit on fax pa­per so she could see the plans for each and ev­ery floor. 49 When ma­jor ty­phoons Milenyo and On­doy hit the Philip­pines, Nedy Tantoco spear­headed One World, One Christmas and sought the co­op­er­a­tion of Rus­tan’s sup­pli­ers from France, Italy, the United States, the United King­dom, Switzer­land, Brazil, Canada and Sin­ga­pore to pro­vide noche buena for af­fected fam­i­lies, and this pro­mo­tion is now a cen­ter­piece project dur­ing the hol­i­days.


Rus­tan’s also works with The Chil­dren’s Hour for Christmas do­na­tions.


The Rus­tan’s Group of Com­pa­nies, through the Tantoco-rus­tia foun­da­tions, was a ma­jor bene­fac­tor of the re­de­vel­op­ment of The Paco Market, which pre­vi­ously was a ma­jor pol­lu­tant of the Pasig River. At the reded­i­ca­tion of the re­vamped Paco Market, Am­bas­sador Tantoco stated: “It’s just the first step in re­al­iz­ing many dreams, dreams of a legacy that will cre­ate higher qual­ity lives for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”


To launch Rus­tan’s in the ex­panded Ayala Cen­ter in Cebu, a col­lab­o­ra­tion was com­mis­sioned be­tween Ken­neth Cobon­pue and Cary San­ti­ago for the cen­ter­piece in­stal­la­tion.


Ta­ble set­tings by the pre­mier events stylist of Cebu Teresin Men­de­zona and in­ter­na­tional bri­dal and celebrity designer Monique Lhul­lier graced the homes sec­tion of the re­vamped Rus­tan’s Cebu.


At the open­ing of Rus­tan’s Cebu, the am­bas­sador quipped that it was now the store to be the tem­plate of fu­ture Rus­tan’s stores. He also said at the open­ing, “Rus­tan’s is not just a store, it’s a her­itage.”


Rus­tan’s of­fered the first gift cer­tifi­cates from a de­part­ment store.


Rus­tan’s Fre­quent Shop­pers Pro­gram (FSP) was the first re­wards pro­gram for 57 Re­launched this year, the im­proved Rus­tan’s FSP now en­ti­tles card­hold­ers to in­ter­na­tional shops such as Tang’s in Sin­ga­pore and Cen­tral Re­tail Group in Thai­land. Card­hold­ers can also earn points by shop­ping in Adora, Deben­hams and all SSI stores.


In 2015, Rus­tan’s ac­quired Adora. Founded by Tantoco heirs Merle Tantoco-pineda and her mav­er­ick son Eman Pineda (who also started Tyler, Har­lan+holden and the lo­cal shop of Ri­mowa, the Ger­man lug­gage brand). Asked if he felt any bit­ter­sweet sep­a­ra­tion anx­i­ety, Eman an­swered, “Lolo wanted it, and I also see the syn­ergy.”


Rus­tan’s cre­ated the coun­try’s first lux­ury bri­dal reg­istry.


On its 65th year, Rus­tan’s won an award for re­tail ex­cel­lence from the In­ter­na­tional Home and House­wares show in Chicago, best­ing mem­bers from 370 re­tail­ers from 45 coun­tries.


Con­fi­den­tial­ity about sup­pli­ers was an early pil­lar of the group and it was all about a baker. When Rus­tan’s in San Marcelino was new, Glecy Tantoco’s daily snack was pan de sal from the neigh­bor­ing baker. One day, the baker was out of bread be­cause his flour sup­plier closed shop. The en­ter­pris­ing entrepreneur then searched for a flour sup­plier and then started sell­ing flour to the baker un­til he fol­lowed her one day and dis­cov­ered her se­cret source.


The first head of vis­ual mer­chan­dis­ing at Rus­tan’s started out as a jan­i­tor. 63 As pres­i­dent, Don­nie coined “WIS­DOM” to en­cap­su­late the Rus­tan’s core val­ues: win­ning, in­tegrity, shar­ing, dar­ing and malasakit. “These are not my words. I just used what I’ve been hear­ing from my grand­par­ents, par­ents and aunts, and put them all to­gether.” 64 The top sell­ing lo­cal designer for ladies’ wear is Criselda, de­signed by for­mer model turned designer Criselda Lon­tok­fer­nan­dez, who was per­son­ally cho­sen by Glecy Tantoco and who still shows up at the store ev­ery day for per­son­al­ized con­sul­ta­tion.


Rus­tan’s will even­tu­ally bring their ex­pe­ri­ence on­line. “We don't want to just do it for the sake of it. We want to en­sure that that spe­cial feel­ing, that Rus­tan’s brand of shop­ping, will still be deeply felt even on an on­line trans­ac­tion.”

Though he’s not as known to­day, French designer Louis Féraud was very much in-de­mand when power dress­ing and Dy­nasty ladies ruled the day, and was brought in by Rus­tan’s in the ‘80s.

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