By Craig Patterson
Minimalist Japanese retailer Muji has provided an update on the expansion of its downtown Toronto store, including a rendering showing how it will have a significant presence on Dundas Street when it opens this fall. The expansion will more than quadruple the size of the store at 20 Dundas Street West, which was Canada’s first Muji location when it opened in November of 2014.
Muji confirms that the two-level store will span a whopping 19,125 square feet, which the company confirms makes it the largest Muji location outside of Asia. Renderings show that a considerable amount of its retail space will be on the second level of the Atrium complex in which Muji is located — the retail space is being created out of office space in the large mixed-use complex.
The 19,125 square foot store is considerably larger than the original 4,373 square foot store which opened at 20 Dundas in 2014 — back then, Muji stores were generally smaller and have been progressively getting larger as the company continues to open stores.
The store’s location is strategic, being located steps off of the busiest pedestrian crossing in Canada — Yonge Street and Dundas Street, and is across the street from the CF Toronto Eaton Centre which, with more than 50-million annual visitors, is the busiest shopping centre in Canada. Several major brands operate flagships in the immediate area including H&M, Michael Jordan, Adidas, Samsung, Uniqlo and Nordstrom, among others.
The expanded Toronto flagship will surpass the size of Muji’s Robson Street flagship in Vancouver, which opened in a one-level 14,507 square foot space in December of 2017. Muji hasn’t yet revealed what departments will be included in the expanded Toronto flagship, though the Robson Street flagship might provide some insight — books, custom monogramming and live plants can all be found in the downtown Vancouver store, which has become an attraction on Robson Street’s 1100 block.
Some Muji stores in Asia feature food and beverage offerings (including its ‘Café & Meal’ concept) and in Japan there are even fresh grocery offerings. A Muji store in Osaka, spanning more than an acre in size with about 46,300 square feet of retail space, is currently the retailer’s largest store globally.
Muji is said to be doing stellar sales in Canada, and particularly on the West Coast where it recently announced that its Metropolis at Metrotown unit, which spanned 7,770 square feet when it opened in August of 2017, will be expanded this fall to an impressive 12,305 square feet on one level. The idea is to bring the store in line with the experience, product selection, and footprint of the Robson Street flagship.
Muji’s Canadian stores have been growing progressively larger as they open in Canada. As mentioned above, Muji entered the Canadian market with a 4,373 square foot store in downtown Toronto in November of 2014. That was followed by a 5,225 square foot store at Mississauga’s Square One in November of 2015, followed by the October 2016 opening at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping Centre (6,375 square feet) and the Summer 2017 debut of a 6,000 square foot space at CF Markville, north of Toronto. A store at Scarborough Town Centre, measuring about 6,800 square feet, opened in March of this year.
On Canada’s West Coast, Muji currently operates three stores — Metropolis at Metrotown was the first when it opened last August, followed by the Robson Street store in December and most recently, a 6,355 square foot store at CF Richmond Centre which opened in April of this year.
Last year, Muji’s Canadian President, Toru Akita, said that he expected MUJI to operate between 15 and 20 stores in Canada by the year 2020, and a source working with the company says that the retailer has already mapped out many of the locations where it plans to expand, which may include malls as well as urban street front locations.
Known for being innovative and its products being affordable and unbranded, Muji carries various household items, furniture, appliances, stationery and apparel. With hundreds of stores worldwide, it saves money by spending little to nothing on market research and advertising. MUJI is short for Mujirushi Ryohin, or ‘no-brand superior items’, and was founded in 1980 as the private-label brand of a major supermarket chain.