As the year winds down, it is nice to be able to share some very positive news. Hollywood will soon be the home of two very innovative Japanese concepts, Japan House and Miniso, that are both scheduled to open within the next couple of weeks.
Japan House is a unique project of the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is a world outreach effort to promote Japan’s best art, cuisine, design, entertainment, fashion and technology. Three world class cities where there is a strong Japanese influence – Sao Paulo, Brazil; London, and Los Angeles – have been selected as the sites for the program. Because of its heavy pedestrian and visitor traffic, Hollywood was chosen as the site in L.A.
Yuko Kaifu, president of Japan House L.A., explained that the aim is to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan, by creating a hub from which to showcase and communicate Japan as a country of countless charms, able to enrich the rest of the world.
Japan House will occupy a total of 14,000-sq.ft. at the Hollywood & Highland center on the second and fifth floors. Its various elements include a retail shop and small café on the second floor that will carry an expertly-curated selection of unique Japanese products, scheduled for a soft opening on December 20th. Also on that floor will be a gallery space, which will feature as its first exhibit “Anrealage: A light un light”, showcasing works of innovative fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga, who uses photosensitive fabrics in his collections. That exhibit is set to run from January 19 through March 21, 2018.
The fifth floor will open in summer 2018 and will house a library, a salon and restaurant, where visitors can browse books on Japanese culture, attend lectures and demonstrations, and dine on fine Japanese cuisine. According to Michael McDowell, Executive Vice President of Japan House L.A., the 40-seat high-end restaurant will rotate in top chefs from Japan.
Set to open a flagship store in Hollywood in January is Miniso, a rapidly-expanding Japanese seller of lifestyle products. Miniso is occupying 4,757-sq.ft. of space on Hollywood Blvd. that was previously occupied by American Apparel. The firm specializes in providing simple high-quality products at competitive prices. The majority of their items range from $1.99 up to $30.
The company has opened 1,000 stores around the world in the past three years, and its revenues doubled from $750-million in 2015 to $1.5-billion in 2016. Five stores are set to open in California. Besides Hollywood, there will stores in Santa Ana, Lakewood, and Moreno Valley. A store in Pasadena has already opened.
The location of these two unique concepts in Hollywood is encouraging. Especially with other retailers retrenching, there is a need for to rethink retail. The type of retail that can still succeed is experiential, one-of-a kind concepts. Japan House and Miniso both fit that model. We will be watching to see how both stores (and the fine dining restaurant) perform. Their success would pave the way for other similar concepts to come to Hollywood.
What is particularly encouraging to us is that they both recognized the potential of locating in Hollywood. We have been expecting to see an upswing in retailers. With the rapid revitalization that is occurring in Hollywood, we have seen new residential, office and hotels, but have yet to see a significant turn-around with retail. Hopefully, these stores will lead the way.
I’m planning to visit the new stores as soon as they open. I hope you will also!
Leron Gubler has been serving as the President and CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce for the past 25 years. His tenure since 1992 continues to oversee the great comeback story of Hollywood.