Prior to the build-up for the Expo'85 World Science Fair, shopping in Tsukuba was almost non-existent, and residents had to go to Tsuchiura or elsewhere for their shopping. Then, in rapid succession, Daiei, along with Seibu and Jusco, built new department stores in central Tsukuba. Daiei, with its two floors of shopping with three floors of parking directly above, made life easier for "Tsukubaites" (or would it be "Tsukubans"?)
After the "burst of the bubble" a few years ago, numerous Japanese companies and banks have been struggling with huge debts that have forced scaling back on many fronts. The Sogo department store chain went completely under some time ago, and Daiei has been closing stores that haven't been doing so well. One problem the local Daiei store faced was that they didn't own the land, and so along with reduced sales caused by the downturn in the economy and the increased competition of new stores, they also have had to pay rather substantial rent. Thus, the decision was made to bow out of the Tsukuba market.
The final sales are going on this month, and the store, along with all of the smaller businesses within it, will close completely at the end of May. How the building will be used from June has not yet been announced, but with such a nice facility and no rental income coming in, one can bet that some sort of store will open up there again. Wouldn't it be grand if Costco came in and took it over! (For those of you who don't know about Costco, it is a giant, American wholesale store that opened its first outlet in Japan near Makuhari Messe in Chiba.)
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