The first phase of MUJI's American retail strategy is now complete as the Japanese retailer's flagship store finally opens today at noon. Here's what we learned at this morning's Press Preview:
- The store is much bigger and more dramatic that its debut SoHo unit on Broadway. It appears to have a similar mix of products as the downtown store, but lots more of them.
- There's still hardly any furniture. Boo hoo for us, but the MoMA store still seems to have that department covered until even more MUJI arrives on these shores.
- The store looks terrific in Renzo Piano's New York Times Building which perfectly reflects MUJI's utilitarian, minimalist aesthetic. The possible drawback? The jury is still out on how effective the location will be on West 40th Street near Port Authority Bus Terminal. It's being called MUJI Times Square, although, thankfully, it's just a few steps away from the tourist mayhem that is Times Square today. It's really more like MUJI Garment District, and we wonder if it is a strong enough destination to draw its target customers into a neighborhood they otherwise would never venture towards.
Lucky for us, the big new store is convenient to The Shophound's Hell's Kitchen headqarters.
While it seems like the store has basically the same merchandise as SoHo, a closer look shows ever so many more product variations, meaning that there are about twice as many of those irresistible polypropylene organizational boxes and drawers we like to imagine will transform our office into a sleek model of Japanese efficiency. There are more binders and writing insruments and more durable recycled paper everything. Every category is expanded so there's more MUJI to love for everyone who loves it. Will its unadorned, logo-free, un-souvenir-like items mean anything to the tourists? Lets hope so for their sake, although we don't relish the store being packed with slow walking, slack-jawed wanderers from far away.
For your edification, here's the contents of the Press gift bag:
- Small hanging drying rack with clips
- Chronotebook (available free to first 500 store visitors)
- Miniature washing board (we're not exactly sure what to do with this, but it's Muji, so it's cute.)
- Clear plastic Ballpoint pen
MUJI Times Square, 620 Eighth Avenue at 40th Street opens at 12 PM today