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Thursday, Nov. 30, 2000

1,000 yen shops offer customers discount-shopping thrills

Staff writer

In response to the continuing economic slump, 100 yen shops have popped up everywhere in the last few years, but their popularity may soon be overshadowed by the emergence of 1,000 yen shops.

4H-Club, a trading house that deals with brand-name imports, came up with the idea of selling items that usually bear price tags of up to 10,000 yen at the uniform price of 1,000 yen.

The company's first "Miracle 1000" shop opened a year ago inside a shopping mall in Tokyo's Adachi Ward, followed by one in Chiba Port Town. It currently has seven outlets in the Kanto region, including a newly opened shop in Ageo, Saitama Prefecture.

Its latest addition will open Friday in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, and it plans to increase the number to 20 next year.

Aritoshi Muto, 4H-Club's managing director, said he regards the Miracle 1000 shops as a form of entertainment.

"I want my customers to feel excitement and surprise when they come to the shops. Customers need to be amazed at what they can get for the price," Muto said.

Selling goods at the fixed price of 1,000 yen is not an entirely new idea. Until now, however, such ventures were confined to temporary sections in some department stores and supermarkets.

The difficulty of bringing together a wide range of items for discount sale and ensuring a reliable supply to meet demand had made it impossible for individual businesses to launch such specialized stores. 4H-Club, however, was able to make the idea a reality through connections it had established with wholesalers.

The stores are about 600 to 1,000 sq. meters in size (the Saitama stores are as large as 2,200 sq. meters) and are divided into sections by category, giving them a similar feel to supermarkets or department stores.

The wide variety of items coupled with customers' sense of satisfaction at having snapped up a bargain seem to be the keys to success.

The approximately 1,000 items on sale range from clothing to household products and electrical appliances such as radio cassette players. Other merchandise includes kotatsu blankets, curtains, accessories and brand-name items such as bags from Le Sport and shoes from New Balance.

At present about 65 percent of the merchandise is clothing, but Muto said the company will look at changing the selection of items or increasing the number of particular items depending on profitability.

Although the company did not disclose its first-year sales, it aims to bring in sales of 6 billion yen in 2002.

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