Examining the factors behind the failure of a business can prove instructive, especially when that particular business had been thriving in the waning days of the “bubble” economy.
As Nikkan Gendai (May 9) reports, in the spring of 1991, Chikan Club, a shop appealing to men with a groping fantasy, opened for business in a condominium near JR Uguisudani Station in Tokyo’s Taito Ward. Payment of 20,000 yen enabled access to a room festooned to appear like the interior of a commuter train. After nudging, groping, fondling and sniffing the female “passengers” therein, the 60-minute session would be brought to a close with a hand job.
Within six months of its opening, the shop was raking in revenues of 10 million yen a month, and Mr. K, its thirtyish owner, was boasting to the media that his shop enabled men to fulfill their favorite fantasies while serving to discourage actual groping assaults on the trains.
But by the summer of the following year, patronage of the shop had declined sharply. It seems that rival “image clubs” that dressed their female staff in race queen bathing suits and nurse uniforms were springing up rapidly in other parts of the city. Not only did these shops charge about 5,000 yen less than Chikan Club, they also provided raunchier play, permitting such activities as mutual masturbation, i.e., allowing customers to finger the female employee’s crotch while being milked themselves.
When the management of Chikan Club tried to offer similar privileges to its patrons, however, some 70 percent of its female staff refused and resigned en mass. And the ones who stayed on were the least talented at feigning a groping victim.
Upon further investigation, it became clear that what most excited the club’s patrons was not girls who showed a cheerful and cooperative attitude while being groped, but those who acted with shock and disgust, as if they were actually being violated. It was this realism that brought in the business.
Unfortunately by the time K figured this out, his business had tapered off to a trickle. After two years and seven months, Chikan Club went out of business.
“I should have kept a closer eye on what was going on, but I let success go to my head,” K sighs regretfully. “I caused my good workers to walk out. I was a jerk.” (K.S.)
Source: “Kyaku no shinri wo yomenakatta ‘chikan kurabu,'” Nikkan Gendai (May 9, page 28)