Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Foreigners Flock To Souvenir-Dispensing Vending Machines
TOKYO (Nikkei)--A business owner on Inokashira Street in Tokyo's bustling commercial district of Shibuya is using eye-catching orange vending machines to sell Japanese souvenirs to foreign tourists.
The owner of Wa-zakka Shibuya Maruara Watanabe, Arazou Watanabe, says, "I came up with the idea to sell souvenirs in a vending machine when I saw foreigners photographing the beverage vending machine in front of my store." An English teacher from America who was staring at the machine admitted with a laugh that "it's a unique way of selling things."
Each vending machine offers buyers product explanations in English and features about 60 types of souvenirs, including hand towels, Japanese-style hairpins and earrings.
Sales of 50,000 yen to 100,000 yen a month at the first machine, installed in September, were much better than expected, so Watanabe installed a second in December. Ninety percent of the people who use the machine are Westerners, and the No. 1 seller is origami earrings in the shape of cranes, which sell for 1,200 yen. Watanabe plans to add more items based upon Japanese traditions in the future.
(The Nikkei, March 5 morning edition)