By Craig Patterson
Minimalist Japanese retailer Muji, which opened its first store in Western Canada at Metropolis at Metrotown in suburban Vancouver in August of 2017, has provided an update on an expansion that will see the location’s retail space expanded by more than 50%. The store will close temporarily on October 1 to complete construction, and it will re-open at the end of October.
The expanded store will measure 12,305 square feet on one level, according to Muji, which will involve adding 4,535 square feet of retail space to the current 7,770 square foot store. The expansion is made possible by annexing three separate retail spaces that were adjacent to Muji including Change Lingerie, which relocated in the mall for Muji’s growth spurt.
“When we opened our first store in Western Canada, in August 2017, we were very surprised and happy to see so many people coming to visit us,” says Toru Akita, president of MUJI Canada, in reference to the Metrotown store and its expansion. “One year later, we think it’s time to thank our loyal customers by offering them a bigger and better MUJI Metrotown.”
When it re-opens in late October, the expanded Metrotown Muji flagship will carry the brand’s full range of merchandise, including more than 4,000 items including household goods, apparel and food. The store will also offer new services such as Muji’s Interior Advisory service and Style Advisory service, as well as the full ‘MUJI YOURSELF’ customization service which will be available, including embroidery, stamps, gift wrapping and label printing.
For the first time in Canada, Muji will introduce a brand-new complimentary alteration service to the Metrotown flagship — the company continues to add unique new features to its stores as they expand. As well, Muji Metrotown will be the second in the country to feature the brand’s Aroma Bar, which allows customers to create a customized fragrance blend by choosing from more than 40 essential oils (the Vancouver Robson Street flagship was the first).
Photos of original interiors during the store preview on Friday, August 25, 2017 (courtesy of Susanne Milner) before its first opening:
Muji currently operates three stores in the Vancouver area. In the fall of 2017, Muji opened its gigantic 14,507 square foot store in downtown Vancouver at 1125 Robson Street, and it remains to this day the largest Muji store outside of Asia. In the spring of 2018, the retailer also opened a 6,355 square foot store at CF Richmond Centre, which is said could also be in line for an expansion, given its exceptional sales.
Muji’s first Canadian store opened in Toronto in November of 2014 at the Atrium, which is a multi-use complex featuring retail at its base as well as retail above. That 4,400 square foot MUJI store was temporarily relocated while the permanent space is expanded to a whopping 19,125 square feet, which will surpass the Vancouver Robson Street flagship to become the largest Muji store outside of Asia. The Toronto flagship will reopen this fall, spanning two levels that will be connected by escalators (a first for Muji in Canada).
The company’s largest store, globally, is a 46,300 square foot store in Osaka Japan, which features food and beverage offerings (including its ‘Café & Meal’ concept) as well as a fresh grocery section.
Prior to opening its stores in British Columbia, Muji launched its operations in Toronto where it now operates five stores. Its second Canadian location, spanning 5,225 square feet, opened at Mississauga’s Square One in November of 2015, followed by the October 2016 opening at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre (6,375 square feet) and the Summer 2017 debut of a 6,000 square foot space at CF Markville, north of Toronto. Most recently, Muji unveiled a a 6,800 square foot store at Scarborough Town Centre.
MUJI’s Canadian President, Toru Akita, has said that he expected MUJI to operate between 15 and 20 stores in Canada by the year 2020, and it has already mapped out many of the locations where it plans to expand, which may include malls as well as urban street front locations.
Craig Patterson, now based in Toronto, is the founder and Editor-in-Chief Retail Insider. He’s also a retail and real estate consultant, retail tour guide and public speaker.