[Rakuten DREAM]小さな専門店だからできること(野球用品スポーツショップムサシ)

What only a small specialty shop can do We soften up the whole glove like this, using our own hands. I started doing this as I figured it’d set us apart from other stores. Sports-Shop MUSASHI
Store opened: July 11, 2005
Genre: Baseball equipment Searching for What Only We Can Do The retail store and office of baseball equipment merchant Sports-Shop MUSASHI is located in the Katsuta district of Okayama Prefecture. Katsuta district, Shoou town, Katsumada. There’s 3 katsu (勝=“win”) characters, so it’s a really auspicious name! Mr. Jiromaru returned home to his family-run sports store aged 25, and opened a store on Rakuten Ichiba. When we send emails following a purchase saying “Do your best with this bat!” for example, and the customer replies “Thank you,” or when we get responses to our newsletter. I really feel that there’s lots of ways to connect with our customers online too. There’s a lot of big chains out there, and having something that we specialize in has always been the key to compete. I felt that it would be better for us to build up a relationship with our customers. Starting to think about what they could do themselves, he settled on molding baseball gloves by hand. When you buy a glove, it’s hard at first, right? So in order to make sure it’s a little softened up by the time it’s delivered, our job is to mold it into the right shape by hand. You can get a Mizuno glove at any sports store, but by molding it before we send, it’s transformed to a one-of-a-kind product. I wanted to create an added value that only we can add, even if (competitors) try to copy us by lowering prices. Through molding gloves by hand, Mr. Jiromaru could strengthen the bond with his customers. A happy result of this is we’ve had customers coming back, commenting “My older son really liked your glove so I’ll get one for his little brother next,” or “We’ll buy from you again when he goes to junior high school.” We even had one customer come here all the way from Hokkaido because he liked our hand-molded glove so much! It was quite a surprise, to see someone from Hokkaido in our little backwater town! I don’t think I’ll ever forget that encounter, and the point which brought him here was our hand molding, so I’m so glad we decided to do it! Another unique idea of the store concerns the glove packaging. We put this in the package to make sure the glove doesn’t get crushed, and I thought it’d be fun if we could give our customers a little encouragement by sending them a message like “go for it!” inside. We’ve had customers comment how, for example, their son had the message we sent pinned up on his desk, as if he seriously took it as a motto to inspire him, to which our staff respond “Great!” or “What we’re doing is worthwhile.” So it’s come to encourage us as well. The Fun of Doing Things Differently For our product pages, we don’t just fill them with manufacturers’ photos, but try to express ourselves. For our packaging, I tell our staff to package the product “with added value.” Above all, we try to look to do things that bring us enjoyment, bring happiness to the customer, and set us apart from other companies, so we don’t overlap. He’s also searching for unique ways of doing things on his “manager’s blog.” I started blogging, posting from time to time, and eventually started to focus the content on order-made gloves. As a result, we’re getting customers who purchase a number of these gloves each year, and there’s even high school students who’ve saved up their pocket money for a while to buy one. I’d like to be a part of our customers’ everyday lives – they’re reading the blog every day, I’m writing it every day, and the contact time with them is growing, you know. We also have conversations, like “Thank you, I-san,” or “That point was really cool!” I always reply to comments with a message, and they reply back. They’re really into the glove, so we also get suggestions from their side to make modifications. I think it creates a kind of virtuous circle. From 2015, the store also started its own glove repair service. Making our customers happy is so important. A customer came to us saying he wanted to restore a glove that had been out of use for 20 years, and after we repaired it and sent it back he said that it had reawakened his desire to play baseball again. We also repaired a glove for a customer that their parents bought for them and they wanted to hand down to their own son. And when their son used it he really treasured it. There’s a lot of stories like that when it comes to repairing gloves, which makes it really interesting. The Fun of Going to Meet Customers One kid who bought a glove from us made it all the way to the Koshien high school baseball finals. And I actually went to watch him play, as a supporter! His parents got in touch to tell me the news, and I said I’d go to support, just like that. It’s more fun that way, right? It’s more fun that way, right? I wrote about it on my blog too – how I sat with the kid’s mom and dad in the stands to cheer him on. It made for a great story! He’s also started setting up stalls at youth baseball events. There’s a baseball tournament for junior high school student living on isolated islands, and I thought if I went I’d be able to meet some customers. When I got there, one kid said to me “I just got a delivery from you one hour ago!” I was so happy to hear that, and could really appreciate the fun of meeting, actually going to meet, customers. Individuality of Store Brings Customers Closer What I enjoy is being able to make a connection between the store, as well as the store manager in my case, , and the customer; being able to communicate brings us closer, both in time and distance. I can’t put my finger on it, but I just like to meet customers. And I want to meet more and more customers, whether it’s online or in the store here. Meet them and support them. That’s my hope. “Your dream blossoms from your effort!!”

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