Honesty is the best store policy.
Despite the hit that a lot of restaurants have taken in the past few years, take-out businesses like taiyaki stands that serve up fish-shaped cakes filled with custard or the Japanese sweet bean anko, have been faring well, but are still subject to seasonal changes in preferences.
▼ Anko taiyaki
For example, these hot cakes understandably aren’t quite as popular during the blistering summer months, and this is where the trouble began for Junya Hashimoto, owner of Taiyaki no Bunfukuya in Gyoda City, Saitama Prefecture.
The summer lull combined with strict restrictions at the time, resulting in Hashimoto’s sales dropping by over 70 percent. To compensate he made the difficult choice of raising prices, but feeling guilty, he decided to make up for the price hike by adding a little more anko filling.
▼ A slideshow of Bunfukuya, I’ll explain all the signs later…
It was a continuing process in which Hashimoto kept asking himself, “Should I put in a little more?” Before he knew it he was putting in so much anko that he was selling at a loss despite the price increase.
If he continued to sell taiyaki so stuffed with sweet beans, the store would go bankrupt very soon, but he also didn’t want to raise the price again. This meant the only option was to reduce the amount of anko in his cakes. It was a painful decision, and Hashimoto wanted to come clean about it…to the entire world on Twitter.
▼ “We are a taiyaki shop in Gyoda. I’m sorry everyone!! Please give us power with retweets”
In the tweet is a picture of a sign that hangs outside the front door of Taiyaki Bunfukuya which reads:
I used to put a lot of anko inside, but there was no profit from it. I will reduce the amount of anko because the store is about to go broke. Please forgive me.”
Most businesses would just make the reduction without saying anything, thinking that customers wouldn’t notice or care enough to make a fuss, and they’re usually right. But Hashimoto felt he owed the customers more than that and laid it all out in the open.
The genuine honesty touched many and his tweet got a big response, netting over 27,000 retweets and 65,000 likes. There were also countless replies and well wishes from other Twitter users.
“It’s okay I like the cake part a lot!”
“You could make different prices depending on the amount of paste you use.”
“Bunfukuya uses the best quality anko and prices have been rising, so I totally understand if you use less.”
“I’m going to buy five right now.”
“I’m marking this shop on my map app for the next time I’m in Gyoda. I’m not really interested in taiyaki, but I want to support this place.”
“Heck, take out all the beans. I’ll still eat it.”
“I think a lot of people actually like less bean paste.”
“I love lots of bean paste, but no problem! You need to do what you need to do.”
“You can sell sets of five and only put anko in one to make it like a game.”
The online love-fest was all well and good, but more importantly to Hashimoto’s bottom line, his plea also resulted in a steady stream of customers buying Taiyaki Bunfukuya’s anko-reduced cakes.
▼ A news report about the booming business
By the way, watching the above videos you probably noticed that the inside of Taiyaki Bunfuku looks like a chaotic mess of signs, but there is a method to the madness. Since the taiyaki aren’t pre-made, customers have to wait about six minutes for their order, so to keep them occupied Hashimoto hung up dozens of posters, messages, ads, and whatever he could get on the walls for them to read.
It’s just another way that Taiyaki Bunfuku shows remarkable consideration for its customers, and in a country with an already high standard for service, this shop is a cut above the rest.
Source: Twitter/@tenjingouitsu, TV Asahi News
Top image: Pakutaso
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