It's a weekday morning and a steady stream of customers is entering a Workman store in Tokyo's industrial Ota Ward, mostly blue-collar workers looking for ¥99 rubber gloves, ¥3,500 safety shoes and other gear they need before heading to construction sites.

The clientele markedly shifts as the clock approaches 10 a.m., with casual shoppers coming in to check out the ¥1,900 stretchable cargo pants popular for their light weight and breathability, and the ¥4,900 rain suits displayed near the entrance — a handy item for the rainy season.

"We see regular customers during the day and manual laborers in the morning and at night, before they head to work and after they're done for the day," said Hiroki Nagasawa, the 27-year-old franchise owner of a store he runs with his wife and a few part-timers.