With Starbucks having won the loyalty of so many customers in so many countries, sometimes it seems like the Seattle-based coffee giant has a location in every corner of the world. There’s still at least one place that’s Starbucks-free, though, and that’s Tottori, the last prefecture in Japan without a branch of its own.
The situation is about to change, though, as Starbucks is set to open its first Tottori location this week. Local coffeehouse chain Sunaba Coffee, whose name is almost an exact copy of Starbucks’ Japanese nickname, is bracing for the impact of its new competitor by guaranteeing its product tastes just as good as Starbucks’, while making the humble request that customers get one out of every three coffee fixes at Sunaba.
In Sunaba’s defense, the chain’s name, which means sandpit, is ostensibly a reference to Tottori Prefecture’s sand dunes, a unique bit of geography in humid, forested Japan. Still, like we talked about when the local chain first got started in April of 2014, it’s pretty obvious that Sunaba is also supposed to be a play on words on Sutaba, the Japanese nickname for Starbucks.
Sunaba’s had Tottori to itself for the past year, as it’s taken Starbucks until this month to get around to the rural prefecture located on the country’s main island of Honshu along the Sea of Japan. But on May 23, Starbucks will be opening a 71-seat cafe not far from Tottori Station in Tottori City.
Realizing its business climate is about to change dramatically, Sunaba Coffee has responded with an equally dramatic poster.
Splashed across the top of the ad are the exterior of the first branch of Sunaba Coffee, on the left, and the American flag with a painting of one of the “black ships,” as U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry’s naval expedition, that played a major role in ending Japan’s period of forced isolation, is called by the locals.
But just as Perry’s arrival didn’t result in military hostility between the U.S. and Japan, Sunaba Coffee isn’t looking to declare war against Starbucks. Instead, it’s simply asking that customers continue to support the chain by choosing Sunaba one out of three times they go out for a cup of coffee. Sunaba is even sweetening the deal with its triple-pronged “Big Pinch Campaign.”
Between May 23 (the day of the opening of Starbucks’ Tottori branch) and May 27, the first 30 customers at the Sunaba Coffee Tottori Station branch will receive a free Sunaba Coffee mug. Sunaba also seems to respect its new rival enough to understand that people will be tempted to try it out, but is promising half-off discounts on blend coffee for anyone who comes in with a receipt from “the American coffee shop.”
Sunaba isn’t trying to defy the invisible hand of the free market system by relying on pity purchases to keep it afloat, though. It stands by the quality of its blend coffee, and during the campaign any customer who tells the staff it tastes worse than Starbucks’…sorry, “the American coffee shop’s,” won’t be charged a single yen for their Sunaba coffee. So go ahead and order with confidence, and while you’re at it, you might want to order a tuna cutlet sandwich, plate of shrimp curry, or stack of pancakes, all menu items Sunaba offers and Starbucks doesn’t.
Restaurant information Sunaba Coffee Tottori Station Branch / すなば珈琲 鳥取駅前店 Address: Tottori-ken, Tottori-shi, Eirakusencho 152 鳥取県鳥取市永楽温泉町152 Open weekdays 8 a.m.-8 p.m., weekends 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Sources: Hamster Sokuho, Fashion Press
Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Is this new coffeehouse in Tottori Prefecture out to screw Starbucks? -- Tully’s Coffee checks off every last prefecture, set to open store in oft-forgotten Tottori Prefecture -- Starbucks close to total Japan domination© Japan Today