Aki-Home is a Japan based company that started off as a furniture manufacturer in 1967 (Nitori Holdings, Inc.). Their first foray into the U.S. market occured in October, 2013 when Aki-Home opened up two new stores in Fullerton and Tustin, California. Currently as of October, 2018, Aki-Home has five other locations in the Southern California area with the largest one being a 50,000 SF space at the Ontario Mills Mall in Ontario. Their Fullerton location has been closed for several months already and remains vacant.
Despite the closing Aki-Home has stated that they intend to continue to expand as heavily as possible throughout the United States. Their goal is to have 100 stores within a 10 year span. It's an ambitious plan especially with the likes of other large furniture retailers vying for the same target consumers. On a local level we've seen a lot of mom-pop furniture businesses close up shop because of the fierce competition, convenience, and pricing advantages afforded to the larger retailers like IKEA. It's quite possible that Aki-Home may find a niche amongst the giants but we gather that their issues may be more intrinsic than market based.
A quick Google search of Aki-Home Fullerton will reveal a common denominator in consumer sentiment. "Overpriced," "poor quality," "horrible customer service." Aki-Home's targeted consumer is the middle to lower/upper class with a median household income between $50k to $150k. With many options available to this segment of buyers, the way to differentiate oneself from others is accomplished by upholding quality in your product and providing unparalleled customer service. Time will tell if Aki-Home will be able to implement these into their expansion plans for the future.
WHAT IF THE COMMUNITY COULD CHOOSE THE NEXT BUSINESS OR SERVICE?
The store's closing got us thinking. CPGI is based in Fullerton and we specialize in commercial real estate. We support local businesses and we also have a vested interest in the area because we spend so much time here. And this is how it should be in any community we live and work in no matter where you are. We spend so much of our time around where we live and work, and so why do we have a business, service, or product that doesn't fit our lifestyles or preferences? Why do you have to drive 30 minutes over to the next few cities over to get what you need? "Wouldn't it be great if there was a..." Have any of you asked this question?
For the Aki-Home location, we think a great children's indoor playground/cafe would be a wonderful hit with the community. Somewhere children can come to blow off steam while being supervised and where parents can enjoy some respite and tranquility in a safe setting. If the food and drinks are good here, it would only make the experience better.
Have you seen any location that is vacant and thought "What if...?" If so, let us know. Maybe CPGI can make something happen for your community!