Ms. Ayako Kase / MUJI SHARE STAR HAKODATE, General Manager of Community Development

 On April 2017, MUJI SHARE STAR HAKODATE opened. It is a large-scale store in the downtown of Hakodate where Goryokaku, the symbol of Hakodate, is located. This time, as a result of the expansion renovation, the sales floor of MUJI has expanded from three floors (1F to 3F) to four floors (B1F to 3F). In addition, MUJI will develop Hokkaido's first section specializing in "food" in cooperation with local business partners to provide fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, bakery, etc.
 Through the "Hakodate Community Market," which has been held a total of 27 times, we have deepened our ties with the local community. With this reopening, our store will set up a permanent corner to sell products of local producers and individual stores. Across the street from the store is Marui Imai, a department store connected by an underpass, which attracts shoppers from all over the city. On the fourth floor of SHARE STAR HAKODATE is G-Square, a public community facility of Hakodate City, which is used by many students and working people as a community exchange space. We will work to revitalize the city center while further strengthening our ties with Marui Imai and G Square.

■A Bustling Sales Floor Like a Market
 In introducing a specialized "food" section on B1 floor, we aim to play a greater role as a community in the local community than ever before. Thinking about local specialties, lifestyles, and eating habits, we imagined what people living in Hakodate would want from MUJI, and we came up with the product lineup. We also plan to send out information every day so that people who are now eating out less due to the COVID-19 and want to enjoy more delicious food at home can make new discoveries. In cooperation with the people of the surrounding shopping district, we tried to create a sales floor that will generate the kind of bustle atmosphere and vivid communication just like a market where people from the local community sell good products while talking face-to-face.

■Selecting What is Useful to the Local Community as a Manager
 In order to realize a sales floor that would generate communication, it was essential to negotiate and cooperate with local business partners in opening new stores. In particular, I considered how MUJI could collaborate with local people, rather than simply helping others, from the perspective of management. Moreover, I thought about how I could conduct business that would be useful to the community while taking advantage of mutual benefits. I realized once again how difficult it is to get to know about a factory or production area, to interact with the producers, and to talk to them with an eye on the future while considering their attitude toward manufacturing and their needs. However, after many conversations with the owners of the local commercial facilities and local business leaders, I was able to clear up what I could and could not do one by one and come up with a solution, although it took some time. At the end, everyone shared the same desire to serve delicious food, bring smiles to customers' faces, and help out in any way that would benefit the local community.

■What I gained by Becoming a General Manager of Community Development
 As a General Manager of Community Development, I work with the owner of the commercial facility to build connections with the city of Hakodate, neighboring municipalities, and the Hokkaido Promotion Bureau, sharing information about local activities and problems. I am also in charge of communicating with people and stores in the area and negotiating with them, so that we can proceed with various initiatives such as holding online workshops in the time of COVID-19 pandemic, hoding market events after the renovation opening, purchasing and selling products, etc.
 In addition to selling MUJI's original products, I also visit the production areas to look for local products. This process not only help me gained knowledge about manufacturing, but has also helped me learn about product knowledge By understanding the manufacturing process and listening to the producer's commitment to manufacturing, I was able to reconsider taking good care of things and selling them. I would like more store managers and staff to experience this kind of work.

■"Notice, Think, and Try"
 What I noticed during the renovation was that there are many people in Hakodate who are involved in the food industry. Since dairy farming, agriculture, and fishing are also thriving in the area, it is difficult to just walk in and ask them to collaborate with us. In order to do so, I need to visit the area many times, talk with them, and think about how I could convey MUJI's idea about "food" to them. By continuing to talk to various people, I began to see things I couldn't have known, and they gradually began to help me. For this renovation, I received fishing and farming tools that were actually used here in Hakodate from local fishermen and farmers and we displayed them in our store. I would like to create an opportunity for people to learn about the hardship of the primary industry and think about food properly.
 In order to enrich the lives of the people living in the vicinity of Hakodate, my first goal is to achieve sales target of 1.1 billion yen for all of stores in the commercial facility, and while conducting activities rooted in the local community, I aim to please our customers and make MUJI an indispensable presence.

■To Those Who will be Involved in the Community
 The first thing to do is to study again what kind of history the area has had, and learn what kind of life and industry the local people have. Then, connect with the people who live and work in the community, and participate in local events and communities. By making one connection, you will be able to make new connections. If you continue to do this, you will be able to create many more connections. I believe that by connecting people to people, we can connect to the community, and from there we can see many things that we can create.
 If you go to the city hall or the community center of the government, you will find many events planned. You can also look through public relations magazines to find out more about various things. Rather than thinking about difficult or big plans, it is important to find small things that will benefit the community.