Business / Corporate

FamilyMart with a dash of Don Quijote; firms launch experimental stores in Tokyo

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

Convenience store operator FamilyMart and discount store chain Don Quijote opened two jointly run experimental stores in Tokyo on Friday, exploring ways to learn from each other’s marketing and operational know-how.

FamilyMart, the country’s second-biggest convenience store operator, aims to attract more female and younger customers with items from Don Quijote, which has become popular in urban areas partly thanks to its unusual approach to displaying goods.

Don Quijote stores are known for piling up numerous items on the floor and shelves, with the whole shop looking like a huge maze. This style has attracted many young customers, which is the reason that FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co. opened the joint stores in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward and the city of Tachikawa, located west of the metropolis. Another store is set to open later this month in Setagaya Ward.

The experimental stores were originally regular FamilyMart convenience stores, but they have been revamped to incorporate Don Quijote items and its store style.

For instance, the Tachikawa store has increased the number of shelves to 62 from 34 and raised their height from 1.6 meters to 1.8 meters. This is to make it look like the store is packed with goods, like at Don Quijote shops.

The storefront of a joint FamilyMart/Don Quijote convenience store is seen in Tachikawa, Tokyo, on Friday.
The storefront of a joint FamilyMart/Don Quijote convenience store is seen in Tachikawa, Tokyo, on Friday. | REUTERS

The Tachikawa store now sells about 5,000 items, roughly 1.7 times more than an average FamilyMart store does. It also has more snacks, liquor and everyday goods, such as board games, that people don’t often see at convenience stores.

“Convenience stores have been seeing a declining number of customers in the past couple of years,” said Makoto Iwaki, who oversees the joint stores at FamilyMart Co., during an unveiling event at the Tachikawa shop.

He said women and young people are especially hard to attract these days, so FamilyMart hopes that the greater variety of items provided by Don Quijote will become a magnet for those customers.

For Don Quijote, this experiment is to “acquire know-how of managing small-scale stores from FamilyMart,” said Mitsuyoshi Takeuchi, an executive officer at Don Quijote Holdings Co.

Takeuchi said Don Quijote also wants to see the reaction of customers when FamilyMart convenience stores are mixed with Don Quijote’s method of promoting and displaying items.

Takeuchi declined to comment on how long the two firms will run the experimental stores.

FamilyMart UNY and Don Quijote Holdings agreed to a capital tie up last year to facilitate business cooperation and complement each other’s strengths.