From Kamakura to New York

We made a decision to open a store in New York. The grand opening was October 30th, 2012, and we decided to open the store at 7 in the hope that we could help those business men who had forgotten their ties or stained their shirts with coffee in the morning. However, on that day New York experienced a hurricane for the first time in 60 years, and our opening took place against a backdrop of flooding and blackouts. It was 7 am and there were no trains nor buses nor taxis around. Visitors who had gathered in the city from all over the world were trapped in their respective shelters. Only the nearby McDonald’s and our own store appeared to be open. Nevertheless, tourists who had been forced to extend their stays came to our store in need of clean shirts and we achieved record sales.

New York has had a long history in clothing. If we are to survive here, we need to utilize our prize asset – the spirit of ‘omotenashi’. Of course our shirts and ties are of the highest quality. But if we are to stand a chance outside of Japan, all we have left is our mentality: the spirit of caring for others. A merchant can only do business by responding to demand, and fulfilment of wants is guided by the heart and not by the body.

The first point of ‘omotenashi’ is to keep a well-tidied store. The store needs to be clean, with its products ordered, and to smell pleasant for all. We must sense what the customer wants and present an appearance and conversation that is relaxing for the customer.

The culmination of all this is ‘O-MO-TE-NA-SHI’. It was ‘omotenashi’ that allowed us to acquire an amazing 4000 loyal patrons in just one year. Our ‘omotenashi’ was valued highly by the local customers as ‘great service’. We received many emails thanking us for the level of service that even luxury stores could not offer. We were able to demonstrate how enjoyable shopping can be.

We, Japanese, went to New York to sell clothing. While we may have been looked down upon initially, we were able to deliver first-class service that captures the spirit of Japan.