The Japanese Shop Celebrates 20 Years in Business

Having reached a huge business milestone, it’s time to look back over the last 20 years and reflect on some key moments that brought The Japanese Shop to where it is today.

 ‘Quitting my National Sales Managers job with DHL in 1998 felt like jumping off a cliff – not knowing if my parachute would open!’ says Jez Willard, MD of The Japanese Shop, when reminiscing to the beginnings of The Japanese Shop.

But it did open, and Jez and his wife Hiromi successfully opened their first shop, Doko Toko, in Harrogate in 1999 before opening a York branch in 2002, a Chester branch in 2004 and a Head Office in Harrogate in 2006. Business went from strength to strength and they won ‘Overall Business of the Year’ in the York Press Business Awards in November 2004. By 2007, the company had passed £1,000,000 in sales.

However, things took an unexpected turn for the worse in 2009 when Jez and Hiromi lost everything after the financial crash. A product of passion, resilience and determination, The Japanese Shop showroom opened in 2012 and today has over 30,000 registered customers!

The Japanese Shop Showroom

So, what does the future hold for The Japanese Shop?

‘We still love coming to work and we are still very excited about the future!’ says Jez. ‘I am confident that we can continue to grow the business by continuing to invest in our website, opening up new sales channels and exploring export opportunities.’

‘I’d like to thank our customers for staying loyal to us, in some cases we know for almost 20 years. Their constant feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we need to improve.’

What better way to round off a fantastic 20 years of business than with a well-deserved trip Japan to watch the Rugby World Cup? Jez, Hiromi and their three boys celebrated in style, watching the exhilarating semi-finals and final in Yokohama!

Why not celebrate The Japanese Shop in the new year by visiting their pop-up at a beautiful Japanese woodblock print art exhibition at RHS Garden Harlow Carr in the new year? 

There will be an opportunity to see the iconic ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa’ as well as 19 other showstopping landscape woodblock prints on display during a six-week Japanese exhibition in the historic Bath House. The traditional Japanese woodblock printing collection was created by Master Katsushika Hokusai (1760 - 1849), who is perhaps best known for his woodblock print series called Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

The Japanese Shop pop up will sell a variety of authentic Japanese gifts including kimono, authentic tablewareorigami kits and kokeshi dolls. Stop by between 10 am-3 pm from the 4th January to 13th February. No booking is required – admission to the exhibition is included with garden entry. If you’d like to find out more about the event, please visit the RHS website.

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