Japan's Family Mart brings its upscale convenience stores to US

Convenience stores—shortened to “conbini” in Japanese—are ubiquitous in the Land of the Rising Sun. FamilyMart (website) is a giant in the category, with sales of nearly one trillion yen (US$10bn) and over 10,000 stores blanketing the archipelago.

Now “FamiMa”, as it’s known, is making a big push into the US, thinking an upscale, Japanese-focused concept can be successful here. The press release crows: “First lifestyle speciality all-in-one community to open in West Hollywood! LA gets the first taste of Famima’s “premium experience”. I’m honored. The new store is just up the street from my house, a 15-minute walk (Google map). The press release continues:

West Hollywood. California has always been a trendy place for firsts… design, fashion and food to name a few. Now add to the list, Famima!! A new lifestyle specialty all-in-one community store (Premium Grocer + Quick Service Restaurant + Convenience Store) concept that is thoughtful in its modern design and sophisticated in its product offerings is set to open on July 20, 2005 on the corner of Santa Monica and La Cienega Boulevards. With an appeal that is pop, hip, and Gen-X all in one, Famima!! is superbly positioned to be West Hollywood’s newest hot spot this summer.

Having visited the new store the first chance I got, I can say that the concept works well for me, compared to other “competitors” like 7-11 that basically make me want to kill myself every time I step foot in one. I like the range of foods they carry, including of course lots of Japanese candy (like Pocky) and instant noodles and even rice balls, magazines (which they need to beef up their selection of), and drinks. There’s a little restaurant which I didn’t try, fresh foods, coffee, and even stationery (although it seemed overpriced). The store is friendly and bright and attractive. It has stuff I want and need. I’ll be back.

FamiMa is going to roll out quickly in the US. The West Hollywood store is the first of 250 they plan to open over the next five years. I wish them well. But I have some suggestions. They don’t seem to understand that people drive cars over here, and need to be able to identify the store from the street, then quickly grab a convenient parking spot. And I’m not sure the “FamiMa” name works—maybe they should go back to “Family Mart” over here. I know they had to bring people over from Japan to staff the stores but they should make sure those people function a little better in English. And they need to work on their website. Finally, where is the Yakult? Good luck, FamiMa.

3 Responses to “Japan's Family Mart brings its upscale convenience stores to US”

  1. wilder espiritu Says:

    deseo informacion de family mart

  2. Susan Says:

    Actually I have been to two famima’s (one in Torrance and one in Santa Monica), and I found it easy to park near or at the stores. The Torrance famima has it’s own parking area and the Santa Monica famima is located in an area that is surrounded by parking lots. I love the stores selection and all the healthy choices. As far as prices are concerned I think that famima is no more expensive than your run-of-the-mill 7-11 marts. Actually I would rather not compare famima to 7-11. Well, if anyone has not gone yet, go ahead and check it out.

  3. bob Says:

    Check out japan probe blog. In Japan Family Mart is selling a magazine against non Japanese people. It uses the N word to describe afro Americans.

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