Big MUJI Is Here


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.Mujihousewares 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:

  1. Small hanging drying rack with clips
  2. Chronotebook (available free to first 500 store visitors)
  3. Miniature washing board (we're not exactly sure what to do with this, but it's Muji, so it's cute.)
  4. Clear plastic Ballpoint pen

MUJI Times Square, 620 Eighth Avenue at 40th Street opens at 12 PM today

Giveaway Alert:
MUJI To Hand Out Chronotebook At Flagship Opening

To spur crowds at their grand opening next Friday, MUJI will be handing out its popular chronotebook schedule book to the first 500 visitors to its Times Square flagship. We do love us some swag, and we're happy to pass along the tip. The store opens at Noon. Line up early.
Muji Chronotebook (Press Release)
full press release after the jump

Continue reading "Giveaway Alert:
MUJI To Hand Out Chronotebook At Flagship Opening" »

Midtown MUJI Opens May 30

Official word from the press office has arrived, and the midtown MUJI flagship will open one week from this Friday on May 30th. The doors will open at noon at which point we will fond out exactly who is a big enough MUJI fan to brave Times Square and trek to The New York Times Building on West 40th street.
This is the flagship store, so we are expecting a much bigger presentation than the SoHo location.
More furniture please!
MUJI 620 Eighth Avenue at  40th street, Midtown

Full press release after the jump

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Midtown Muji Moving Along

The big sign is in place.
If Muji is to make good on its promise to open its larger 40th street flagship by the end of May, they've got a week and a half to go.
As far as we can tell, they have not yet announced an official opening date, but on our unannounced site visit yesterday (read: we walked by and looked into the open door) we could see that much progress has been made since our last scouting visit. The ceiling is in, and it looks like display fixtures are arriving to be placed. With a minimalist décor and walls that are mostly glass windows, there's not all that much finishing left to be done. Could we see a big new Muji this weekend?
previously: A Peek Inside Muji Midtown

New MUJI Redux

Yes, it all sounds a little familiar, but if any of you have found SoHo's MUJI shop a little bit lacking - and we know some of you have - that store was merely an appetizer for the much larger flagship unit set to open shortly in the recently unveiled New York Times building on 40th Street at 8th Avenue.
The signage says that the store will open this Spring, though from what we could ascertain by peering through the paper covering the windows, there's a lot of work yet to be done before this store is ready. In fact, it still looks like raw space down there.
The good news is that this store is much larger than the SoHo outpost, so hopefully it will offer a more expanded range of product. MUJI stores in Japan are known for being much more comprehensive, and we are particularly looking forward to a bigger selection of their minimalist furniture.
The bad news it, it's on 40th Street at 8th Avenue, a neighborhood best known as the home of the Port Authority Bus Terminal. We're not sure how they were lured to this spot, however they were surely dazzled by the prospect of being in a new, architecturally significant building. Their future home is impressive, but is also something of an island in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, it doesn't even give MUJI the kind of high profile a real Times Square storefront would, so we are curious to see how much of a draw it will be in a spot that is really a retail no man's land.
We're not far away, so we'll be there on the first day. Who else will?

Mike Albo Goes Shopping: "Can We Please Get a Zoloft for Mr. Albo?" Edition

As Cintra Wilson is probably being forcibly removed from the Dolce & Gabbana boutique at the moment, Mike Albo takes over Critical Shopper responsibilities in this week's Thursday Styles. Ad why does Mike need a Zoloft?

I don't know about you, but I don’t get the holiday blues anymore. That syndrome seems like a quaint, forgettable rash compared with my now-annual The World Is Headed for Disaster winter panic, which is caused by exposure to extreme weather changes, scary news reports and unrelentingly cheery holiday excess.

What a way to start things off. That's what medication is for.
We have to admit that Muji, the current object of retail fascination and Albo's subject du jour, also gives The Shophound a sense of calm and a feeling that all is right with the world. Why, we are not exactly sure, but we get the same sensation in Bergdorf's and Williams-Sonoma, stores that have little in common with each other. We're sure there is some retail analyst somewhere who has parsed out the visual signals and environmental conditions that create such a response, but why ruin the pleasure with analysis?
After dispensing with most of his characteristic angst and oversharing, Albo focuses in on the products, and cannily distills their appeal,

The clothes here simmer with potential. I felt as if I was standing in American Apparel, circa 2004, or Benetton, circa 1993.

We would have said Benetton circa 1983. By '93 who would have been caught dead in Benetton?
Critical Shopper: Muji - The Civilized World Finds a Refuge by Mike Albo (NYTimes)
Muji 455 Broadway between Grand and Howard Streets, SoHo
Previously: MUJI Is Here!

Muji Opening News

WallshelfOur current most anticipated store opening has been confirmed! Muji SoHo at 455 Broadway will be opening its doors to the public at 12 Noon on Friday, November 16.
To encourage its customers to conserve, the Japanese-based retailer will be giving the first 500 customers re-usable "My Bag" shopping bags along with a special gift. Continued use of the shopping bag will allow customers to accumulate points redeemable for special items, as well as offering discounts on special "My Bag" shopping nights.
New store giving away stuff? Get in line behind us.
Muji SoHo  455 Broadway just below Grand Street, SoHo
see a preview of available items here