[OLD NEWS] Mandarake

Posted by Gcrush 
I was skimming through old TDX stuff, and came across this:



[toyboxdx.com]

1999

"The economic recession in Japan is hitting retailers like never before, and those smart enough to specialize in low-cost used goods have been reaping the benefits. Mandarake, the famed secondhand comic and toy retail chain, is one such success story: they've been releasing store specials and opening new outlets like there's no tomorrow. In fact, American fans were thrilled when they decided to open a Los Angeles store as well.

"Prepare to be even more thrilled.

"According to the December 6th issue of The Nikkei Weekly newspaper, Mandarake will be opening shops in New York, Seoul, Boston, Seattle, and Chicago within the next three years. Furthermore, Mandarake President Masuzo Furukawa....wants his New York shop to be a sort of comic theme park, complete with comic-hero figures and costumed musicians playing theme songs from animated cartoons.

"So where's the dough for all this expansion coming from? An IPO, of course. Mandarake is due to float shares of stock in July of 2000. Stay tuned for more info as the story develops!"




Looking at Mandarake's website, I see they offer it up in different languages, but I don't see any shop locations outside of Japan. Did they ever open up shops abroad (I don't remember an LA shop), did it get put on hold, or will it never happen?
Yes, there was a Mandarake in Torrance that moved to Santa Monica, but it closed. More info on the rest here:

[toyboxst.inwards.com]
Ah, well - there you have it. Thanks, Rog.

But is Mandarake still hurting? They do still have all those stores back in Japan... And wasn't the Nakano one a recent addition? Maybe they're on the upswing again after the last few years...

Then again, if Bandai can't get Gundam to fly in the US was it ever feasible to expect to create a manga theme park in the Big Apple? Me thinks not.
I don't know how they're doing financially. If they're publicly traded, I'm sure you can find that information pretty easily.

The Mandarake stores in Nakano and Shibuya have been there for a while. They used to have one in Shinjuku, too, but it closed about three years ago. I see that there's a store in Akihabara now, but it's all doujinshi. Bleh.
I miss the Shinjuku one. That place was huge. I never did see the upper floors of it though, the basement was far to enticing with all their relatively well priced toys and models. Damn I wish it was still around. Same with that Torrence one.
> Then again, if Bandai can't get Gundam to fly in
> the US was it ever feasible to expect to create a
> manga theme park in the Big Apple? Me thinks not.

Heh, I dunno, it seems like there's a place for them in between the Nintendo store and the Kinokuniya up there...

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
MattAlt (Admin)
If I recall correctly, the IPO flopped here in Japan, and Mandarake went through a serious financial downturn due to overexpansion. They seem to be doing fine now, if the sprawling multiple stores they're running in Nakano Broadway are any indication.

I think opening Mandarakes in America was a little over-ambitious, to say the least. You need a huge volume of people coming and going and buying and (also very important) selling to make a vintage store on the scale of Mandarake worthwhile.
How come Book Off seems to be doing okay? You don't even get nearly as good a deal with the selling at Book Off, either.
I can't speak of Book-off, altho I'm guessing they're mainly books...I wonder if they're getting flooded with used American release manga now...

anyway, the big problem with Mandarake, and the reason for their failure in the US, can be summed up by two words: Unrealistic Expectations. Like many other companies that have tried to 'crack' the US anime fan market, they just didn't really *understand* what that market is, how it works, what the real interest is in and the like.

They listened to the wrong people, figured that triple markup pencil boards and floods of the wrong thing would do the job, never did the smart thing and use the US store as a..well, dumping ground for things no longer of great interest in Japan..I seem to recall they were still trying to get $50 a disc for LDs when they were clearing out the entire stock in Japan at $5 a disc...

People are just too savvey about 'teh market' nowadays. The *customer expectation* is that a store like Mandarake would have the newest stuff cheaper, they'd actually be paying attention to what sold and restocking *that*, they'd do quick clearance sales when the 'next show' comes out to move old stock, etc. Because that's how they do it in Japan.

Instead...well, I never got there, I only saw the US website, but it just seemed to be the same tired failure mode thing....500 Yen candy toys for $8-12, 1000 Yen model kits for about $18, that sort of thing. Correct me if I'm wrong, please, but I'd like specific product mentioned then...

(yes, I know..markup and profit..but again, they're a large-ish company with bigger dreams...they *are* getting their new stock at wholesale, and with proper planning you don't *have* to airfreight everything..when it hits the store is 'new' enough for most folk..)

Nice try, sorry it didn't work out, next time don't listen to cali fandom... :)

---------------------------------------------------
* * *I writ more because I know more..usually.* * *
MattAlt (Admin)
never did the smart thing and use the US store as a..well, dumping ground for things no longer of great interest in Japan..

Perhaps someone who actually shopped/worked there can enlighten us, but insofar as I understand it, this is exactly what they were doing -- boxing up unsold merchandise from Japanese stores and sending it over to the States. Also insofar as I understand it, Mandarake has a very tight merchandise control system that integrates with their pricing structure, which I assume they brought to the US as well.

I think there's only so far you can go by selling Japan's dregs, though, and that's probably what did them in. Mandarake is a bastion of Otakuism over here in Japan, and set adrift in another country without that kind of cultural support structure, it's just another comic-book store.
cae
The store I was in -in Torrence, I think?- was mostly manga.

The outer windows had lotsa toys but waaay overpriced and the customer service was teh suck (the kids behind the counter were flirting with each other - not me!).

The Asian market had more interesting stuff at more reasonable prices.

I think any store that has to adjust its prices for the cost of shipping small quantities of everything over from Japan in the age of the internet is gonna look bad. Still, it's a pity they went under. Not a surprise, just a pity.

---------------------------------
hassenpfeffer
mcfitch (Admin)
Corey,
Please don't contradict SteveH. He's a certified market analyst in importing.
-Mason
I thought they had some rather well priced model kits... at least the older stuff was well priced. I for one didn't complain about the old Japanese store stock they put up into the shelves either. You could find some interesting and sometimes even rare stuff if you actually looked. A lot of the model kits sold inside the store were usually well priced though. They were older kits, but they certyainly weren't marked up(unlike a certain hobby shop I frequent). I recall they had Vifam and L-Gaim kits for as low as $1.
mcfitch (Admin)
It sounds like a cool store and I was eagerly anticipating the NYC one. I wish I had been able to go to one of the stores here before they closed down. Oh well, all the more reason to head to Japan.
-Mason
mcfitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Oh well, all the more reason to head to
> Japan.
> -Mason


Totally. Even if Mandarake had become firmly entrenched in the US, there's a whole series of dimensions you'd be missing by not going to Japan. The "Otaku Funk" being first on the list. That back-alley picante blend of cigarette smoke, mothballs, and cheap-ass newsprint paper isn't something you can just ship overseas. Or maybe you can and that's why Mandarake tanked here - US fanboys couldn't adapt to a comic book store that lacked sufficient Kentucky Fried BO pumped into the atmosphere...
mcfitch Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Corey,
> Please don't contradict SteveH. He's a certified
> market analyst in importing.
> -Mason

Actually, my major was in mass media/communications, but I did get a minor in business and marketing...

Never pushed for the degree, however, so technically your mocking is correct...



---------------------------------------------------
* * *I writ more because I know more..usually.* * *
What truth is there to the story of Madarake's male eyployers shaving the pubic hair off of the female workers and making a book showcaising them doing that?

It was mentioned in the book "Cruising the Anime City".

--------------------------------------------------------------

I asked if I have "Time For L-Gaim" but I got "No Reply From The Wind".
mcfitch (Admin)
"Actually, my major was in mass media/communications, but I did get a minor in business and marketing...

Never pushed for the degree, however, so technically your mocking is correct... "

Oh believe me, you've made us aware many a time about this. My mocking stands ;-)
-Mason
MattAlt Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> never did the smart thing and use the US store as
> a..well, dumping ground for things no longer of
> great interest in Japan..
>
> Perhaps someone who actually shopped/worked there
> can enlighten us, but insofar as I understand it,
> this is exactly what they were doing -- boxing up
> unsold merchandise from Japanese stores and
> sending it over to the States. Also insofar as I
> understand it, Mandarake has a very tight
> merchandise control system that integrates with
> their pricing structure, which I assume they
> brought to the US as well.
>
> I think there's only so far you can go by selling
> Japan's dregs, though, and that's probably what
> did them in. Mandarake is a bastion of Otakuism
> over here in Japan, and set adrift in another
> country without that kind of cultural support
> structure, it's just another comic-book store.


It has to be the *right* kind of dregs, is the problem...

Back 1999-wise, your main US fanthing wanted Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion and Tenchi Muyo stuff. And Gundam Wing..

metric buttloads of 'Magical princess pretty pony' will just sit there.

(people like you and me wanted much more..many many different things.. :) )

You mentioned later in this thread getting good deals on some plamo, which is cool, but I wager that wasn't *sustained*...they get a couple of cases of L-Gaim 1/144 kit assortment 'a', but once those were gone, they probably never restocked, right? Or were the kits you remember all the 'shelf warmers' from assortments, with the key robots such as L-Gaim, or Vifam, or...1999, there would have been another reissue of the Yamato kits, so the Yamatos would be gone but plenty of Garuman/Gamilus battleships and such left...

Again, I'm speaking in a very general way, because not actually being *in* the shop is a missing data point, but the *model* of failure has been repeated over and over again...same mode that killed Pony Toy (altho *that* was more to over-expanding, then selling out to a HK company which totally boned up the whole Yaohan chain...anyway...)

---------------------------------------------------
* * *I writ more because I know more..usually.* * *
I'm feeling just a little *confused* about all the asterisks...
mcfitch (Admin)
I think he's using them as quotation marks.
-Mason
Years ago I begged Scott Hards to begin selling toys on his models-only site. He was kind enough, and wrote back that it just wasn't worth it - it could never be supported.


As I recall, all of the old vintage plamo pretty much flew off the shelves and they seemed to restock fairly often for a while. The selection really began to suck though about the time just before they moved the store out of Torrence.
> > but insofar as I understand it,
> > this is exactly what they were doing --
> > boxing up
> > unsold merchandise from Japanese stores and
> > sending it over to the States.
>
> It has to be the *right* kind of dregs, is the
> problem...
>
> Back 1999-wise, your main US fanthing wanted
> Akira, Ninja Scroll, Ghost in the Shell,
> Evangelion and Tenchi Muyo stuff. And Gundam
> Wing..

So your ideal business model for Mandarake involves unsold product from the Japanese stores being identical to the products most desired by the American fan.

Somehow, I don't think it works that way.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Paul, you had some translation mistakes. Let me see if I can fix them for you:




asterphage Should Have *Written*:
-----------------------------------------------

> So your ideal *business model* for Mandarake involves unsold *product*
> from the Japanese stores being *identical* to the products most *desired*
> by the American *fan*.
>
> *Somehow*, I don't think *it* works *that way*.
mcfitch (Admin)
Haw!
Gcrush Wrote:
> Paul, you had some translation mistakes.

I had to read this post four times before I was sure it wasn't making fun of me.

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Lemel,

I used to pester Scott Hards regularly about carrying toys. I'm sure I had no effect, but I'm glad they do now. The most regular answer I would get was that the distribution was completely different from models. It was difficult to secure guaranteed stock, difficult to restock, always shifting demand and popularity, etc. I'm glad they decided it was worth it. I think the anime and sci-fi toys are over half their business volume now, at least the last time I asked.
asterphage Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I had to read this post four times before I was
> sure it wasn't making fun of me.


Glad you got it.


Myles Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lemel,
>
> I used to pester Scott Hards regularly about
> carrying toys. I'm sure I had no effect, but I'm
> glad they do now. The most regular answer I would
> get was that the distribution was completely
> different from models. It was difficult to secure
> guaranteed stock, difficult to restock, always
> shifting demand and popularity, etc. I'm glad
> they decided it was worth it. I think the anime
> and sci-fi toys are over half their business
> volume now, at least the last time I asked.


Amen to that. The days when all HLJ carried were models are just a distant memory to me. I'm glad-as-hell they switched-up their format.
Oh don't get me wrong, I'm glad they have the models too. That's how I found them eight or nine years ago, while looking for gundam type kits. I still buy models now and again, but the money they've made off me on toys has to be an order of magnitude greater, maybe even more.
> The most regular answer I would
> get was that the distribution was completely
> different from models. It was difficult to secure
> guaranteed stock, difficult to restock, always
> shifting demand and popularity, etc. I'm glad
> they decided it was worth it. I think the anime
> and sci-fi toys are over half their business
> volume now, at least the last time I asked.

I think it's gotta just be a volume thing, because they definitely still have all those problems with stocking toys... but I guess they just sell enough that it doesn't matter so much when they have hundreds of God Ginrais sitting around for three years. :)

-Paul Segal

"Oh, the anger is never far, never far." -SteveH
Myles Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Oh don't get me wrong, I'm glad they have the
> models too. That's how I found them eight or nine
> years ago, while looking for gundam type kits. I
> still buy models now and again, but the money
> they've made off me on toys has to be an order of
> magnitude greater, maybe even more.


I'm in the same boat as you. I try not to think about all the money I've sent them. All I'll say is that I've done my part to help give Scott a confortable retirement...
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login

footer