Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Uwajimaya - some background

[Editor: This was originally posted on my Old Town Blog, Oregonlive, March 1, 2008. Some editing. The Daily Journal of Commerce, July 2010, had an article on Uwajimaya which spurred my interest in re-publishing a couple of posts from Old Town Blog. Uwajimaya is an Asian market - Seattle fame - that has for several years entertained establishing a market in Old Town.]
I did a little Googling (sic) and came up with several links [at the end] that may be of some interest. It seemed to me that in reading some reviews several conclusions might be reached.
The obvious is that it is an Asian market; the Seattle market is a destination place; it is pricey; and one's impression of the comparative quality is dependent on the exposure to other similar markets.
As to the latter, those who have been at the Seattle market did not view the Beaverton version as being as good. Nor were those in California who had been exposed to other Asian markets in their locality as impressed as those in Portland/Beaverton area whose exposure was first time.
How do they see themselves? "Since the beginning Uwajimaya has evolved beyond providing basic grocery staples and become known as a tourist and destination store." [Editor: Link is no longer valid but check out Uwajimaya "History" page.]
Interesting, at least to me, in June 2002 the company's president and chief operating officer Akira Moriguchi attributed ". . . the Seattle store's success in large part to the nearby Union Station office development backed by philanthropist/developer Paul Allen, which has brought throngs of new workers to the area. That inspired other, subsequent developments in the area."
Also, it is clear that Uwajimaya is expanding. From Puget Sound Business Journal, September 2007: "New Uwajimaya CEO Tomoko Moriguchi Matsuno plans to open at least three new Asian grocery stores in the next five years."
"The time is right for expansion, Matsuno said, because the flagship Uwajimaya Village in Seattle's Chinatown/International District is completed and thriving. The mixed-use project, which includes a grocery store, retail, and apartments, opened five years ago."
And the possibilities? "She is interested in the Seattle, Portland, and San Francisco Bay areas."
The Uwajimaya Village apartments appear to be above market rate for Seattle. Take a look at the graph. 1 bed/ 1 bathroom in 2008 is $369 above market rate of $1,039. Pricey. [Editor: Check today's prices via the graph link.]
Also, the apartment reviews might have some interest. Although, reviews are typically by the disappointed, they provide some value.
Reviews and other links.
Portland City Search
Uwajimaya, Inc. Company history from an unassociated website -, but I cannot verify its accuracy. [Editor: See company's "History."}
Good Business Journal link for their stories & other information on the business
Prior post and comments.

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