Retail List of examples

Favorite Open Secret — Sustainable Coffee Shop Takes Root in the Local Community

While awareness of environmental issues grows year by year, ONIBUS COFFEE (Meguro, Tokyo) is putting ideas into action by testing new projects in sustainability. Derived from the Portuguese word for public buses, ONIBUS represents the goal to provide a public service. As a local business, ONIBUS COFFEE is committed to taking root within the local community, and has managed to establish a firm presence in an industry that sees a high rate of failure for similar businesses.

After opening its first branch in the Okusawa neighborhood of Setagaya, Tokyo, ONIBUS COFFEE has grown into a popular local chain with five branches in Tokyo and one branch in Vietnam. We talked with Director Atsushi Sakao about his experience with branding and developing a coffee shop with a devoted fan base.

Surviving the Slump - Online Events and Other Ways to Adapt Keep Children’s Bookstore Busy

On February 11th, 2023, over 800 people visited Book House Cafe, located in the historical bookselling district of Jimbocho (Chiyoda, Tokyo).

Opened in 2017, Book House Cafe is a multipurpose facility that combines a bookstore dedicated to children’s picture books, an art gallery, and a coffee shop that transforms into a bar at night. Although the store is celebrating its sixth anniversary in 2023, half of its operating history was overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the light of hope has finally returned to daily life and business, we talked with Director Yoshiko Imamoto about her experience and how the bookstore adapted during the pandemic.

With its mobile bread shop, Masuya Bus, hot air balloons and a horse-drawn sleigh, this bakery is delivering a little bit of happiness with its bread.

Masuya, a bakery founded in 1950 in Obihiro, Hokkaido, has set its sights on turning the Tokachi region into a “bread kingdom” by 2030 and using only Tokachi-sourced ingredients in its products. While the bakery has worked tirelessly on food education and other activities related to sustainable development goals (SDGs), it has seen its sales drop by up to thirty percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although badly affected, the company has risen to the occasion by introducing a mobile bread shop and holding various outdoor events.

“We’re doing this in the hope of bringing a smile to the faces of our customers,” says Masuya’s head of public relations, Norihiro Okawahara.

Despite the loss of tourism income due to COVID-19, a variety of measures prevents sales from dropping — with flexible responses and proactive actions turning crisis into opportunity

Nousaku Co., Ltd. (Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture) manufactures Buddhist ritual implements, tea ceremony utensils, flower vases, etc., using casting techniques passed down in Takaoka. While preserving traditional techniques, the company also works on product development featuring sophisticated design, and has come to be well-known in New York and other parts of the world.

Tours of the factory that’s attached to the head office, as well as a workshop in which visitors can experience casting hands-on, have garnered good publicity and it’s now one of the most popular spots in the prefecture, with 130,000 tourists visiting annually.

We asked Senior Managing Director Chiharu Nousaku about new initiatives that they began in earnest during the pandemic, as well as the circumstances behind how, despite operating fourteen directly managed stores on top of the tourism business, they kept sales losses to only four percent from the previous fiscal year.

A contactless smartstore that opens in response to the coronavirus pandemic also helps to solve the issue of staff shortages.

Roadside Station Ichikawa (Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture) is known as the closest “michi no eki” roadside station to central Tokyo. Not only do its shops offer rows of fresh vegetables and processed goods made from locally grown produce, but the site also features a fashionable Italian restaurant and café. Ichikawa Go, which opened on February 1, 2022, is a contactless smartstore without staff, housed in a portable facility similar to a shipping container, where the entire shopping process, from entry to payment, is conducted by smartphone. We spoke with store manager Aso Taketo, who works for Nihon Meccs, the company that operates Roadside Station Ichikawa, about how Ichikawa Go was developed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and what its future prospects are.

Lilies are given a new purpose after cancellations of wedding receptions and school ceremonies, through a project to attract customers in a world “with” COVID-19

Deep in the snowy country of Niigata Prefecture, where in winter piles of snow may reach four meters in height, the town of Tsunan is known as one of Japan’s major producers of lilies. The Yukibijin (“snow beauty”) variety, an Oriental Lily also known as Casablanca, has long been a favorite for weddings, school entrance ceremonies, and graduations due to the gorgeous appearance of its large, elegant flowers. But in 2020, the spread of the coronavirus led to the cancellation of most of those events. Even when orders for lilies were completely stagnant, the Tsunan Lily and Cut Flowers Association (Nakauonuma District, Niigata Prefecture) was dedicated to finding a way to overcome these circumstances. We talked with Association Vice President Taro Kawada about a project that was made possible through cooperation between the association, Tsunan, local hotels and restaurants, the agricultural co-op, and the local tourism association.

Sharing traditional ceramics with the world via cross-border online store! Virtual showroom plans in progress

When thinking of traditional crafts and ceramics, some people may picture “old” items from past generations. The sophisticated designs of the ceramics sold by You LA Holdings Co., Ltd. (Chiyoda City, Tokyo), however, bear no resemblance to images from a bygone era. You LA sells mugs with original designs, tea incense burners, flower pots, and more, and they were busy with many foreign tourists and buyers every day. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, however, the steady flow of customers all but dried up. We asked Ms. Ayumi Sasaki, President and CEO, about the background behind the company’s decision to open an e-commerce website despite its past devotion to getting people to physically touch the products at its stores, as well as the company’s future outlook.

Food truck sales rescue long-established Okinawan tofu shop during the pandemic, as the crisis offers an opportunity to search out new demand and partner with restaurants.

Founded in 1983, Sandaime Ikedaya (Ikeda Shokuhin Co., Ltd., Nakagami, Okinawa) is a long-established store in Okinawa Prefecture that makes shimadofu. Household consumption of tofu in Okinawa is higher than it is on the Japanese mainland and freshly made yushidofu and shimadofu, both traditional tofu dishes, are widely available at supermarkets. Among Okinawans, they are seen as “soul food” and are an essential part of a meal. While the spread of coronavirus has led to a decline in sales at most food manufacturers due to restaurants’ curtailed business hours and public advisories for people to stay home, Sandaime Ikedaya has boosted their sales through the use of food trucks. We spoke with the company’s representative director, Zukeran Hiroshi, about the reasons for this and about Sandaime Ikedaya’s sales initiatives.

Calls for businesses to temporarily close and people to stay home result in mountain of returned souvenir items. Kyoto and Osaka confectionery makers work on project to overcome this predicament.

Kyoto is one of Japan’s top tourist destinations. Kyonishijin Kasho Sozen has its flagship store in Nishijin, a Kyoto district steeped in tradition. The store was opened in 2000 with the hope of preserving the taste and traditional methods of making arare, a bite-sized cracker made from glutinous rice and flavored with soy sauce, as part of Japan’s confectionery heritage. The people behind Kyonishijin Kasho Sozen are passionate about arare, which has played a role in Imperial court culture since the Nara period (710-794). Following its launch in 2000, the company saw its sales steadily increase. Six more directly managed stores were opened, mostly in places that attract tourists, such as Kyoto Station and Kyoto department stores. However, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020, sales at Kyonishijin Kasho Sozen plummeted. Unable to bear the thought of throwing away returned products, Yamamoto Sozen, the company's CEO, took a decisive step.

Small portions and limited lineup are unique selling points for offal sold through vending machines by meat wholesaler

“This is no good. We’ve got to change the way we do business.” In April 2021, as Japan’s elderly began to receive their first coronavirus vaccinations, Saeki Yosuke put an idea he had into practice. Mr. Saeki is president of Benefit Foods Co., Ltd. (Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture), a meat wholesaler that sells to the restaurant industry. The idea he had was to use a vending machine to sell small portions of motsu offal, and the resulting product was named “Choi Motsu.” Through social media, this novel sales method was picked up by TV shows and newspapers and led to an unexpected customer response. We spoke with Mr. Saeki about how the idea came about and the sales of the products.

Taking full advantage of social media and Internet leads to V-shaped recovery and offers the fun of shopping anytime, anywhere

Komono in Mie Prefecture is known as the home of Banko ware, a style of pottery that originated some 280 years ago. In 2014, Yamaguchi Pottery Studio, a local manufacturer of table and kitchenware for over 50 years, launched its own brand, Kamoshika Doguten. Since then it has opened an online store, as well as a brick-and-mortar outlet, and won many fans through successful online and social media branding. We spoke with Yamaguchi Norihiro, the second-generation company president, about the many initiatives he has introduced in order to stay connected with customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

With so few store visitors, a unique opportunity arises – a new style of shopping service provides new customer satisfaction.

Souvenir shop Ebiya Shoten (Ise, Mie Prefecture) opened in 2016 as part of the long-established Ebiya Daishokudo restaurant. Since then, the store has become much loved by tourists and locals alike for its popular original items based on well-known Ise products and traditional crafts. To overcome the current coronavirus crisis, Ebiya Shoten has come up with an ingenious style of customer service.

Citizens’ group supports local businesses with vending machine mini markets and “Made in Ota” catchphrase.

Ota City Market Executive Committee (Ota, Gunma Prefecture) is a citizens’ group that holds “Marché” market events as a way of promoting the city. The committee brings together “Made in Ota” local products to create new appeal and brand value for the municipality. Here we look at the potential of vending machine mini markets – a new way of selling local products that have come about due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Aiming to cut costs, expand sales channels in Japan and overseas, and increase the number of repeat customers through cashless payment and cross-border e-commerce.

Amid increasing digitalization, stationery store Kakimori(Taito-ku,Tokyo) opened in 2010 with the hope of conveying the wonder and enjoyment of writing by hand. The store sells original goods such as made-to-order notebooks and inks that are tailored for handwriting.

The speedy introduction of an online Zoom store has boosted the number of customers even as the coronavirus epidemic continues.

The motto at Ikeuchi Organic(Minato-ku,Tokyo), a textile manufacturer founded in 1958 in Ehime Prefecture’s Imabari city, a city famous for its towels, is, “Maximum safety and minimum environmental impact.” The company mainly produces towels, items that most customers like to touch and feel before choosing. We looked at how the company has overcome this issue and achieved promising results through online sales.