Shopping at Costco is hardly anyone’s favorite chore.  From the moment of arriving at the parking lot, to unloading bulky purchases, the entire trip is glutted with drudgery.  Yet we find ourselves again and again at Costco, often with the intention to procure a few essentials, and end up spending five times as much as planned.  To disport myself,  I look for products that have finally made their way to the warehouse’s shelves.  An old T Ching post noted Ito En Matcha Blend Green Tea.  Lee’s Coffee by Lee’s Sandwiches debuted last year.  Perhaps a business achieves a milestone when it becomes a Costco vendor.

Ifang 1 SeptSeldom do businesses engage themselves in a storefront venture after having successfully distributed their products via other channels.   On the other hand, physical presence in the marketplace allows an entity to directly interact with consumers and to showcase its capacity in a different light.  Chobani Soho could not just carry its signature cupped yogurt like their supermarket partners do, so sweet and savory Chobani Yogurt Creations are dreamt up and presented, alongside sundry Turkish bagel-like sandwich called simit, soup, and coffee and tea of course.

I was more surprised by  matcha LOVE by ITO EN, named after the tin jar products. Currently, three locations in the U.S.A. offer a limited selection of teas, ice cream, and Ifang 2 Septshakes.  Though my first choice was the sesame, (or goma, in Japanese), ice cream – which I just had to have every day during my last trip to Japan – for this post, I ordered the hōjicha flavor.  What happened?  The much anticipated tea aroma was abstrusely absent. To assuage my dissatisfaction,  I proceeded to order the hōjicha shake – a much better choice.  The texture was similar to soy milk’s, thus more refreshing than regular milkshakes.

Storefront venture may be more common on other continents.  Some manufacturers welcome consumers at their farms or factories, which have been renovated to include a DIY studio, a gift shop. Bobbie Bear is an unusually successful story.

Images courtesy of the contributor.