[Originally written November 2017]
I’m not too happy about Suit Select opening their sterile, salaryman uniform shops in my hood, but at least their main threat is aesthetic. They’re not really stealing business from anyone, except maybe Aoki, another ubiquitous purveyor of cheap, off-the-rack clothes for corporate drones. It’s the small, local businesses that I care about. Besides, who the hell goes suit shopping in Koenji, or even Asagaya for that matter.
The sterile suit industry is one thing, the food and beverage industry is something else altogether. Besides inadvertently orchestrating a global health crisis and costing health care billions if not trillions of dollars, fast food chains have putting mom & pop joints out of business for decades. They are probably only slightly less destructive to a neighbourhood’s livelihood and culture than konbini (convenience stores).
That’s why every time I see an old store in Koenjagaya close down, I get a sinking feeling and fill with impatient trepidation as I wait to see what business will take its place. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is a chain store of some sort. And given the ridiculous rents in Tokyo, this is not surprising.
The latest offender to grace our shotengais, is the national takoyaki chain Gindaco. And too make matters worse it’s a Gindaco Highball, the company’s “cheap booze version” of their stores.
I’m not going to debate whether Gindaco is any better or worse in terms of food quality than the currently-existing takoyaki stands. (And I’m not going to claim that any takoyaki is healthy, like the delusion Huffington Post.) But there are already a few small takoyaki shops in the area, and Gindaco is definitely going to harm all three businesses. And to make matters worse, they planted themselves in a ground floor corner unit smack dab in the middle of Pearl Shotengai, the heaviest stream of customers in the neighbourhood.
Add to this the fact that they’re the “Highball” variety, they are also going after the local watering holes.
The arrival of Gindaco could likely lead to the local shops having to change their hours, open earlier and close later. The people who run the shops will work longer, make less, and spend less time with their families. I wish them all the best, and hope that Gindaco is the next shop I see hang a Closing Down sign in their window.
[Shop Info for non-Gindacos coming soon]