What do you miss about home? It’s a question asked almost every day to travellers and expats alike. And it’s a question that Phil Hogg and his wife Na want to banish for foreigners who’ve come to call Siem Reap home.
Their fledgling Facebook enterprise, While Stocks Last, imports all those hard-to-get items you might miss from home. “The idea came around after joining the Facebook group 'Expats and locals living in Siem Reap, Cambodia',” said Phil. “I read how a lot of people were missing things from their homeland. I then thought about how I could import items but also keep the buzz going.”
Having worked in the supermarket trade for 15 years in his native England, Phil knows more than most about groceries. But to ensure the concept worked, he decided to only open the floodgates once per week.
“We decided to sell a lot of different items each week but only on one day a week. The idea is that every Thursday we will post a shortlist of around 30 items on our Facebook page. People will be able to order the items online and then pick them up from our place on the Friday.”
The couple say they are delighted at the reaction so far, and while they receive a lot of wishlists from expats, business owners want in on it too. “We will also have a selection of regular wholesale items available for guesthouses, restaurants and supermarkets. A lot of business owners are asking about our sausages, pies, puddings and back bacon,” said Phil.
At the top of the demands list are Colman's mustard, Walkers Crisps, Tetleys and PG tips teabags, and chocolate bars like Double Deckers and Cadbury Twirls. Phil said that while many nationalities are interested, it’s mostly appealing to the UK expat contingent so far.
As the owner of a successful guesthouse consultancy business, Phil hopes to pass the business over to Na to run as her own. He adds that while the business model works now, it may change in the future. “I expect it to eventually move away from the internet once the business grows; we will then just open our shop on a Friday for people just to pop in and see what we have in stock.”
Having lived in Cambodia for eight years, Phil says he no longer craves so many home comforts himself, “I now have a good stash of Colman's mustard - I used to put it on everything back home – and British teabags. Teabags in Cambodia are terrible, so Tesco Teabags make a very nice cup of tea!”
It’s the little things you miss, eh?