BY RIANNE PEREDO
Many food-related businesses are dealing with supply issues and the changing preferences of customers due to COVID-19.
S.P.E. (Guam) Inc., which does business as Tokyo Mart and Tokyo Mart Express, has seen an increase in customers as restrictions have loosened after the governor’s declaration of PCOR3 on Guam.
Both locations offer prepared hot food known as bento or lunch boxes. Tokyo Mart, located in Tamuning, is a specialty Japanese grocery store, while Tokyo Mart Express at the Agana Shopping Center offers Japanese snacks and beverages in-store.
However, business has been affected by COVID-19 regarding shipments of various perishable goods from Japan.
“Before, we had our air shipments twice a week, mainly Tuesday and Friday,” said Eiko Barcinas, store manager of Tokyo Mart. “The shipments bring in fresh bread from Japan; fresh vegetables, fruits and seasonal items.”
Some seasonal items in-store often coincide with Japanese holidays and festivals.
According to Barcinas, more than 90% of the merchandise in stock is from Japan. “We also try [to introduce Japanese] culture. They have the fall season in Japan; I try to bring seasonal items in store. … I think that locals are really interested in coming to see not only the merchandise, but to feel like they’re staying in Japan and that experience,” she said.
The immersive experience of visiting Tokyo Mart has contributed to its longtime presence on Guam. “Next year, we [celebrate] 50 years on island. The Agana [location] is gonna be 11 years [old] this coming October,” said Barcinas.
Both locations have changed business hours to accommodate extensive store cleaning during weekends. The business is compliant with health and safety regulations via temperature screening, hand sanitizers for customers to use, increased hand washing by employees and sanitization of shopping baskets and other surfaces.
Tokyo Mart’s hours of operation are Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Tokyo Mart Express’s hours of operation are daily, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. mbj