Monday, December 17, 2012

Costco Japan Report

Yesterday I took my life into my own hands, daring to go to Costco on a Sunday. I'm a big fan of the company and the way they've brought American-style warehouse shopping to Japan, which has enabled Japanese to experience the joys of imported wine and frozen waffles and Dr. Pepper. A Japanese Costco store is almost exactly the same as the stores back in the U.S., right down to the signs advertising USDA Choice Beef, though they probably have better selections of sake in the liquor aisle than the stores near you. While the company is doing a great job in their Japan stores, there are a few things they might consider changing in the future. They sell giant frozen pizzas here just like back in the States, yet I don't know a single Japanese person who has an oven large enough to cook one; why not sell two smaller pizzas instead? Ditto on the large frozen turkeys they sell: since almost no one in Japan has a proper oven, perhaps Costco should consider an optional cook-it-for-you service like Honey Baked Ham. The company's tiramisu deserts come in a container so large that shocked Japanese describe it as a "bucket," and even my family couldn't hope to finish our giant pumpkin pie, so I brought half in to work to let the J-List staff share. I was happy to find Costco selling frozen burritos, something you don't really miss until you live in a country that doesn't have them. Unfortunately they'd chosen to sell bean burritos, perhaps not knowing that Mexican refried beans are to Japanese as the fermented natto soybeans are to Westerners. (They should go with beef or chicken burritos instead.) 
So if there are any Costco executives reading this, my consulting rates are very affordable, and you can probably pay me in dinner rolls.

The tiramisu from Costco is the stuff of legend in Japan.