Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.Photos via Uniqlo
Uniqlo opened two more stores today in the Bay Area, at the Sun Valley Mall in Concord, and at the Serramonte Center in Daly City. Eager shoppers were lined up outside in anticipation this morning (see all the festivities in the gallery). That brings the Bay Area Uniqlo (and West Coast) tally to five. And they're not stopping there. We interviewed the company's top American executive, USA CEO Larry Meyer, who says more stores are coming soon. Plus, one of our gumshoe readers found evidence that those locations could be the Oakridge mall in San Jose and Stoneridge in Pleasanton (though Meyer didn't confirm).
Meyers told us why the company chose Northern California over the L.A. area for the company's first West Coast stores, and how they will cater to our chilly summer weather. Being the pesky reporters we are, we also asked Meyer about Uniqlo's efforts to ensure safe and ethical practices in Bangladesh, and China, two of the company's largest manufacturing locations. He left that question out of his emailed response. But don't worry, we'll follow up!
Uniqlo has opened many new stores in the Bay Area over the past year or so, and you chose to expand here before moving into Southern California. How did you make the decision to open and expand here first?
"Uniqlo chose San Francisco and the Bay Area because, as the center of innovation and technology, it was a perfect fit with our brand. We put a lot of science and technology in our products from AIRism which keeps you cooler in hot weather to our Ultra-Stretch denim which moves with you. We believe that our product selection of high quality, casual basics fit well with the sensibilities of the Bay Area shopper."
Opening stores in the center of a cosmopolitan city like San Francisco offers access to a different type of customer than opening in a suburban mall. What's the difference in your approach, for example, from opening in downtown SF versus the Serramonte Mall?
"To build brand awareness with new customers, and maintain brand loyalty with our existing customers, our strategy is to open flagship stores in hub markets, then build stores in the surrounding areas. With more locations, we can give our suburban customers more opportunities to shop and more convenience whether they are shopping after work or on the weekends. Each of our stores are arranged and displayed in a way that best suits the customers in that location."
It tends to be chilly in San Francisco and Daly City in the summer. Will you tailor your stock to reflect our weird weather?
"The Uniqlo stores in San Francisco and Daly City sell clothing suited to keep pace with the weather our customers experience living in this area. There is science in our clothes to make your life more comfortable and to keep you warm, cool, dry and protected, ideal for the unusual summer weather in the Bay Area. For instance, we offer our Ultra Light Down coats in fresh colors for sale in the spring. Also available in spring and summer, shoppers can find product lines like AIRism to help you stay cool in dry during the hotter periods."
Do you plan more expansion in Northern California in the near future?
"Uniqlo expects to open more stores throughout Northern California. Stay tuned!"
· Uniqlo's Top Exec Talks Expansion After a Big Year in the Bay Area [Racked SF]
· Northern California has Exploded with Uniqlo Stores [Racked SF]
· Uniqlo [Official Site]