Dōjin Chain Reports Rising Sales Despite Recession

posted on 2009-02-02 14:55 EST
Toranonana plans more stores, aims to spread 'Akiba' otaku culture overseas

Hirotaka Yoshida, the president of the Toranoana chain of anime goods and manga stores for otaku, told Sankei News of his company's growth strategy, despite the global recession that has forced many other businesses to restructure. The chain plans to open its third store in Tokyo's Akihabara otaku shopping district and aims to develop a conduit for spreading the "Akiba" culture and dōjin (self-published) works overseas in the near future.

Yoshida observed that Akihabara has transformed in the last 15 years from a neighborhood of volume retailers for electrical appliances to a district that caters to otaku of manga, anime, and other interests. Yoshida was shocked when Toranoana's first store had 4 hundred million yen (about US$4 million) in sales in its first year. Toranoana now has 16 stores nationwide with plans for more. Yoshida notes that Akihabara gets many overseas tourists, so he feel that there is an opportunity to export the Akiba culture.

His company deals with about 8,000 creators of manga and other goods, of which 30% are non-professionals. According to Yoshida, the non-professional creators had almost nowhere else to publicize their works until Toranoana. The business expands by selling goods such as games based on the creators' characters. Yoshida received a report that projected a 120% growth in sales in January. Since the stores carry a core selection of 300 to 3,000 items, expenditures are extremely low. Sankei News says that 18% of Toranoana's products are adults-only materials, although Yoshida mentioned that his company is having difficulty bringing that share below 10% in order to pass certain standards for stock listings.

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