We’re ready to hear them spill the tea on this phenomenon.

Economies and businesses worldwide are suffering due to the COVID-19 crisis, and Japan is no exception. Many restaurants have closed their doors or are only offering takeout. Bands are starting to sell face masks as merchandise. As for bubble tea shops? They’re selling face masks.

That’s right, face masks. Tapioca bubble tea shops in places across Japan are selling boxes of disposable face masks to the general public. They’re not cheap–some as pricey as 1,000 yen (US$9.30) for 10 masks–but they’re probably a welcome sight for those who haven’t been able to get their hands on masks at their local pharmacy or convenience store.

▼ This bubble tea stand in Osaka is advertising their wares loud and clear with huge katakana characters for “masks” (マスク).

Some have even turned their store sign in to a giant billboard for their new product.

▼ Even if you can’t read Japanese, you have to admit this is a little overboard.

Now that you know the “what,” you’ve probably started to wonder about the “why.” We’re sure any employee would explain it to you, but some stands have been kind enough to put it into writing and post it for all to see.

“These aren’t resale goods. We purchased them directly from a specially designated mask factory in China. You may be subject to criminal punishment if you attempt to resell our masks, however.”

It’s possible that other industries across Japan are doing the same, but it seems like bubble tea stands are stealing the spotlight on this (arguably) smart business move. Some Japanese netizens remain suspicious while others had more to say.

“What a rip-off!”
“Since Japan has started distributing reusable masks, it looks like the people who made easy money off of their good relations with mask makers in a certain country are rushing to sell out their stock before it loses value…”
“I hope they start selling Nintendo Switches.”

Like one netizen said, this trend may not last much longer in the face of the nationwide distribution of reusable masks by the Japanese government, but selling masks at your bubble tea shop is a surefire way of turning heads.

Sources: Twitter/@syde_okuno, Twitter/@markunfu, Twitter/k_bm_ban via My Game News Flash
Featured image: Twitter/@syde_okuno
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