Marukai market proves success through turmoil in Japan

With the current situation in Japan still pending, many markets in the United States who depend on overseas imports have to accommodate themselves by finding new suppliers and products to carry over.  This disruption in commerce may seem to be of an inconvenience but business owners are putting one foot ahead of the natural disaster, and are coming up with alternative ways to supply consumers with the same products in a safe way. The Marukai Japanese Market is no exception. This Japanese product based market can be found throughout California, with a new location that opened blocks away on Pico Blvd on March 25, 2011, a few days after the massive earthquake struck the Tohoku region of Japan. The fairly large market is decorated with colorful lanterns and Japanese delights to give it an authentic feel.

According to Manager Tomohiro Murakami, the market opened with a sale on products that lasted about a month and although the earthquake had just struck, business was booming. The market heavily relies on Japanese products that attract customers to the foreign goods and treats.The Marukai market sells a vast variety of Japanese snacks, fresh fish, seafood, ramen, sake, sauces, candy, and sodas.

"We get over 80 percent of our products directly from Japan so we heavily depend on them. The price of our products has gone up because the price to import them from Japan has gone up due to the earthquake, but it mainly depends on the economy, how the yen is doing compared to the US dollar," says Murakami.

The earthquake in Japan has presented some problems with importing products and making sure they are not contaminated. With increasing inspections and stages that the products have to go through, the process of receiving shipments is taking longer than expected. Many factories have been destroyed, leaving little room for Marukai to expand its product selections from multiple suppliers.

"We cannot import products that contain certain types of beef, chicken, or pork. One of the fish factories that supplied us with our fish and kelp was washed away by the tsunami so we had to change suppliers," says Murakami.

Concern for radiation is kept at a minimum due to high levels of screening every product goes through before being shipped over and Murakami assures that "Our items are safe. Everything that gets shipped over to us is passed and cleared by the FDA so people do not have to worry."

As far as customer concerns go, there doesn't seem to be any. Business in the market has remained consistent since it first opened in March and employers are optimistic for the future. The confidence from the employees is absorbed by the customers that continue to keep Marukai in business.

"I've only had one customer ask about the radiation in Japan and how it affects this market. Business hasn't gone down and from what I've seen prices are pretty consistent. What I have noticed is that people are donating less to our relief fund and I think because they don't talk much about radiation anymore," says cashier David Huh.

Whether the radiation in Japan is being publicized as a priority crisis or not, one thing is certain, the products in sold in the Marukai Market are as fresh as they can get and are as authentic as the factories that ship them over.

Customers continue to flourish and concern for product contamination is kept at a minimum due to every product being cleared by the FDA. Prices are consistent and so are clientele, making the Marukai Market a safe and delectable piece of Japan that is available to anyone.