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Designer goods retailers target foreigners in hunt for more business

TOKYO -- The Japanese boutique retailer Ships will open new sections at some of its stores this autumn specifically meant to attract foreign tourists. Called Ships Souvenirs, the new areas will sell tableware, socks and other uniquely Japanese goods.

A bowl with a Mount Fuji pattern and traditional sandals, which will be available soon at Ships Souvenirs.

     The first Ships Souvenirs will open at the company's outlet in Tokyo's fashion mecca of Harajuku. Similar sections will then be opened at other Ships stores in major cities that tend to attract many tourists.

     Japanese fashion goods are growing in popularity, particularly in other Asian countries, and this is spurring competition to target foreign shoppers.

     The section at the Harajuku outlet will be about 3.3 sq. meters, but will stock about 50 items featuring Japanese designs, including rice bowls with Mount Fuji patterns, traditional sandals and piggy banks modeled after the beckoning cat that is considered a lucky charm in Japan. T-shirts and other clothing will also be on offer.

     All products are developed by Ships in alliance with domestic manufacturers. Prices mainly range from 2,000 yen to 3,000 yen ($19-28).

     Foreign tourists make a little over 10% of all sales at the Harajuku outlet, at which all goods are duty-free. As overseas tourist numbers grow, the company is aiming to advertise its cut-rate prices to attract even more foreign customers.

     Other Ships Souvenirs sections will be opened mostly in and around Osaka that are popular among foreign travelers. The company is considering limited-edition products unique to each store.

     Ships' competitors are also working to capture more tourist money.

     In May, Urban Research, an Osaka-based retailer, opened a shop at Narita Airport just outside Tokyo that specializes in travel goods and gifts. In July, Tokyo-based clothing retailer Beams launched Beams Planets at Kansai Airport in Osaka to sell sundry goods.

(Nikkei)

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