updated 20 Aug 2014, 20:55
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Thu, Jul 03, 2014
The Straits Times
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Tokyu Hands to open here
by Natasha Ann Zachariah

Japanese lifestyle store Tokyu Hands Inc, known in Japan as the go-to store for quirky homeware products and do-it-yourself items, is headed to Singapore.

In September, a 7,500 sq ft store will open at Westgate in Jurong East. It will be located on the first floor of the mall.

Tokyu Hands' arrival in Singapore marks the brand's growing expansion overseas. This is their second overseas store under the Tokyu Hands label, following the opening of its Shanghai outlet in 2012.

Fans of the general goods store have often raved about its quirky offerings such as typhoon-resistant umbrellas, socks for the legs of chairs and mobile phone charms.

But they are also drawn to the store's comprehensive range of items for the home such as crockery, cooking utensils, art and craft supplies, stationery, gadgets, luggage, cookware and DIY tools.

While there is a 150,000-strong inventory, the Singapore store will get about 20,000 items, says Mr Takenori Tsuji, manager of the international business division at Tokyu Hands Inc.

He adds: "Currently, only Tokyu Hands stores with bigger shop space, such as the outlets in Shibuya and Shinjuku in Tokyo, carry our full range of products. Our new store at Westgate will carry a fine selection of products that has been specially chosen with the Singapore shopper in mind."

The store here will also be the launchpad for a new concept, Japan Difference!, where a corner of the store will be set aside for well-designed, high-quality made-in-Japan products.

Prices at the store here, which is tentatively named Tokyu Hands Jurong East, are expected to start from $1 for stationery such as erasers, while suitcases and fountain pens go for more than $500.

The 38-year-old store, which first opened in Shibuya, was originally a DIY and hobby shop, hence its green logo of two hands pointing in opposite directions.

Today, the brand has 28 department store and 21 specialty store branches in Japan alone, and even created a Taiwanese spin-off called Hands Tailung in 2001. It now has 11 stores there.

Singaporeans had a taste of the popular chain when the store had two pop-ups here. Back in 2012, Tokyu Hands made its debut at Isetan Scotts for 12 days, and returned in January with a temporary space at Westgate.

Japanophiles are excited that the label will be available here soon, though they are waiting to see what will be on offer.

Mr Jared Lai, an account manager for an advertising agency, found out about the store from a friend.

While initially unimpressed by its Tokyo outlet when he visited it in January, he was excited to shop at its Osaka store last December.

There, he snagged a Porter bag, made in a design available only in Japan. Porter, a cult Japanese label, is the main brand of Yoshida & Co, and sells bags and accessories around the world, though they have select designs specifically for the Japanese market.

Aside from the bag, Mr Lai also bought an umbrella, travel locks, beauty products for men and a few souvenirs for friends.

The 29-year-old says: "The Osaka store was more attractive with stylish bags and products. They have an astounding range of items to choose from.

"I hope the store here brings in more of their made-in-Japan products, or exclusive Japanese designs such as the Porter bag, to make their offerings more unique. Generally, the quality of the products are better than similar stores elsewhere and have a good range of prices."

Marketing executive Azlyn Khalid, 25, thinks that the store will be a hit here, much like other Japanese lifestyle stores such as Muji, as "they offer a different product range and Singaporeans love Japanese products".

But she hopes that the store will offer more than just novelty products or souvenirs.

Ms Khalid, who browsed through the the Osaka store in July last year, adds: "It would be good if the store here has items that are practical to use, or even ones that cater to local tastes. If not, it will just be riding on the initial hype."

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This article was first published on July 1, 2014.
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