A few weeks after opening, this store, in Ginza, in Tokyo no, in Japan, probably became the number one topic everyone was talking about. A diversity of of unfamiliar proposals will be done in a way that everyone would get. Business for this unprecedented shop has only just begun. Standing beside the drink shelf inside the store right after it opens, Hiroshi Fujiwara looks for words to describe THE CONVENI now and beyond.
Photo, Shoichi Kajino | Edit & Text, Rui Konno
ー Congratulations on the opening. The convenience store is better than it sounds when you actually visit.
Hiroshi Fujiwara – Thank you very much. However, I think that there is still something missing.
ー That's surprising. What specifically is missing?
Fujiwara – Perhaps Quantity. I think that I want to further expand things especially around cash registers. Why not have lots of posters behind THE COMBINI check out area? Look at it like that and it feels a little empty. But theres still some way to go for significance like that in this sort of store.
ーI guess the “convenience store" as lighthearted in nature has never been tackled to that extent?
Fujiwara – That's right. We decided to do 'THE CONVENI' mix and everyone began to research. So when it comes to form like this there are plenty of strong feelings. At every meeting, each team member brought plans, such as putting forward a proposal saying, "the music is like this with this sort of convenience so let's do this, for example”. It would be good if you were now able to think its “like a convenience store" here, and personally think that’s interesting.
ー What was the reaction when you said for the first time, “I want to do a convenience store”?
Fujiwara – Is what I said not clear enough? (lol) Whether real or fake the convenience store is the same for customers too who will understand it the first time they come and see.
ー If you actually look at the item lineup, it’s fresher than it says beforehand, but is there anything that you like in particular?
Fujiwara – That’s Umaibo, right? I purely want to see more of this sort of thing.
ー You was eating Umaibo from the beginning?
Fujiwara – I don’t eat that many (lol). However, a convenience store still needs things such as that. I wanted to balance the sale of high-end things at a reasonable price with this kind of cheap snack and good design.
ー Originally you had the impression that you wanted to have the fun with cheap and expensive things both at the same time.
Fujiwara – That may be true. I want to do with here as well with that sort of point of view.
ー 'THE CONVENI' mix was the sort that was expected from the outset?
Fujiwara – No, the look appeared midway through making. For example, we didn’t know whether we could actually change sweet packaging or something and gradually began to realize we could, settling on the style we have now. But really, thanks to everyone in the team who gave us a lot of good ideas, and it’s a shop that was made from the all the hard work. In terms of ideas, I think the best contributors this time were JUN's staff.
ー I also heard from Mr. Kiyonaga the problems at opening time was like being the owner of a real franchise store. 'THE CONVENI' mix already had invitations to the preview before it opened, and is also a real convenience store, I heard.
Fujiwara – Like a franchise? (lol) It’s not that far ahead but I think it interesting even if we were to produce something like the single juice rack of a real rural convenience store. 'THE CONVENI' mix branded packaging has been decided, so it may be possible to do different things depending on the idea.
ーThe POOL aoyama andTHE PARK・ING GINZA up to then were also famous for their queues and running out of stock, but isn't running of stock dangerous since declaring this is very much a convenience store?
Fujiwara – The area around that vicinity is difficult, but I think that it is good if you can run after sales and restock properly. However, rather than wanting to sell things, I really want you to experience the store and think it can be just as good coming to see it. Since products are designed to also be bought online, the hope is you could actually experience the atmosphere of the space itself.
ーIt is still smart having Mr. Araki's building the space.
Fujiwara – It was a faithfully put together. Maybe it was easy doing it this time with Araki? Because the concept was clear. The 2 of us (Araki and I) went to the convenience store several times, and were talking while looking at fixtures.