The Yurakucho store of ailing department store operator Sogo Co., located near Tokyo’s posh Ginza district, drew the curtain on nearly 44 years of history Sunday as it closed as part of the Sogo’s group’s restructuring efforts.
The store’s closing sale, which was initially slated to last form Sept. 3 to 17, had been extended one week to Sunday due to unexpectedly brisk sales.
On the first day of the sale, the store sold more than it had on any day for the past decade, and sales have continued to rise on an almost daily basis, store officials said.
On Sunday, Yurakucho Sogo opened its doors to a long line of customers who had been waiting under overcast skies.
“We conclude 44 years of business today — I call on you to ensure that everything goes well to the end,” one section manager told his staffers before the 10:30 a.m. opening, when sales clerks, in the Japanese tradition, bowed to welcome shoppers.
Yurakucho Sogo opened in May 1957 as the Osaka-based Sogo’s first store in Tokyo metropolitan area. It’s opening campaign phrase, “Yurakucho de Aimasho” (Let’s meet at Yurakucho) later became the title of a hit song.
On opening day, some 300,000 shoppers braved rainy weather to visit the Yurakucho store.
It was one of the first buildings to have up and down escalators crossing over in an X-shape, and was among the first to blow a curtain of air from the ceiling over its front entrance to help prevent outside air from entering the building.
However, fortunes turned for the store after the collapse of the asset-inflated bubble economy of the mid- to late-1980s, which led to a prolonged recession.
A decline in sales was further exacerbated by the transfer of the nearby Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office to Shinjuku in 1991.
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