New Series "Shoeshiner's Explorations". There are so many wonderful shoeshiners out there! In this memorable first installment, we will be looking at Tamon Hirahara, owner and shoeshiner of BLOOM shoelounge, a well-known store in Niigata, known for the hashtag "#Niigata Shoeshine Mania".
BLOOM shoelounge, which opened in Niigata City in January 2018, is located in a fashionable interior store.
How did you become a shoeshiner?
I originally worked at Isetan for 24 years as a buyer. I was mainly in charge of menswear and men's goods, but as I approached 50 years of age, I began to wonder if I could continue to work like this when I saw my retirement age approaching.
I didn't quit the company with a specific job in mind. When I was sorting out my thoughts after quitting, I suddenly remembered Brift H, which I visited when I was a buyer looking for stories. I had a strong impression that it was a wonderful space to entertain adult men, and I thought I could make use of my experience as a buyer, so I decided to open a shoeshine store.
There are many world-class companies in Niigata, such as SNOWPEAK and SUWADA, and I have always wanted to help the businessmen of Niigata, who are active on the world stage, dress for the occasion. I also had the opportunity to work for Isetan in China while stationed there, and I feel that this experience also had an influence on my decision.
I also worked as a bartender when I was a university student, and I liked talking with customers. I also worked as a bartender when I was a university student, and I liked talking with customers.
Please tell us about your store.
First of all, I opened "BLOOM shoelounge" in 2018, which is located in S.H.S Toriyano, a general interior store. We not only offer counter-style shoeshine, but also shoe repair, custom-made shoes, custom-made jackets from a designer we have known since our days as a buyer at Isetan, and various fashion items including knitwear from a knit manufacturer. We also carry umbrellas made by long-established Japanese umbrella makers.
So although we are a shoeshine store, we are more like a select store. I often describe my store as "a store that helps you dress from the feet up," and we offer total coordination from shoes to everything else.
In December 2020, we opened "BLOOM AIRLINES" in Mediership, the largest office building in Niigata. This is the headquarters building of the Niigata Nippo newspaper, and also houses the Niigata branch offices of listed companies from all over the country.
We want to make shoeshine a familiar part of everyday life, so we have created a simple and easy-to-use menu of 1,000 yen (10-minute course) and 2,000 yen (20-minute course). We named the shop AIRLINES in the hope that businessmen working in Niigata will be able to get themselves well-groomed and depart for the world from here.
Currently, it is mainly run by female craftsmen and is open three times a week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. In November, we are also planning to start a shoe shine sub shop exclusively for those who work in the building. The store is almost two full years old, but because we started with the Corona Disaster, some aspects have not yet penetrated the market, so we are going to do a lot of different things.
We will continue with the second part next week! Enjoy!