RE: blackbird pricing, from Tyler via SZ
Huge post coming up... The prices are this way for a number of reasons, starting with major differences between retail in Japan versus pretty much anywhere else in the world. Typically (outside of Japan) buyers are given a wholesale price which they pay for the product and are able to do their markup based on that. Typically a store's markup can be anywhere from 2.2-3.0 times the retail price, give or take. If the store pays $40 for something, you might pay around $100. As you mentioned, this price difference helps your local retailer pay rent, upkeep, employees, supplies, and, if they are very lucky, make some sort of actual profit. Japan retail has pretty much its own unique retail/wholesale system. All stores in Japan have a set retail price which all stores abide by. When a buyer gets the catalogue for the brand's season, this retail price is listed and it is agreed that the buyer gets a discount off of that retail price. The discount is most commonly 40% off of the retail price (the store pays 30,000yen for something that will retail at 50,000yen) but in some rare cases, maybe a very powerful store or someone who buys an enormous amount will get a discount of 50% or so. Knowing that stores in Japan have such a small markup/margin, it is obviously inherently difficult for businesses to be very profitable. Those are the two retail/wholesale situations at play here. Japan versus the rest of the world. For an American (for example) store to bend over backwards to import these Japanese brands, the back-end cost is very very high. And after that, they can't really just decide in their case to completely change the way they do retail and will continue their normal markup. I mentioned above that 2.2 would probably be the lowest you will see. If we take your example of 162750yen, the wholesale price would be 97,650yen. Multiply that by 2.2 and you already end up with something that is more than the original Japanese wholesale price. The example of 2.2 would be a very low markup, however, and that is for domestic goods. We are dealing here with importing directly from Japan which is a hugely expensive endeavor. Most Japanese brands want to ship by FedEx, and as these are legit companies, they are shipping their products with accurate declarations of descriptions, fabrications, and retail costs. As anyone can tell you, FedEx International Priority can become expensive even when sending a single t-shirt marked as a gift. Try sending a 40+lb box full of expensive boots, knits, and leather jackets. Shipping alone is going to be around $400-500 per box and you later have to factor in another $500 (or more) for customs fees. You are looking at paying around $1000 per box of merchandise. So..! We have our 97,650yen wholesale jacket which we paid about $1,100 out of the pocket for. This jacket is added to the top of a box with seven or so other items, all of which cost $1000 just to get to your office. This shipping cost needs to get repaid and ends up getting factored into your markup even before consideration of paying rent, upkeep, employees, supplies; not to mention the research you have done to track down whatever Japanese brand this may be, possibly including trips to Tokyo. After all is said and done, you end up with something costing quite a bit more than what you see on some Japanese website and, even then, it barely generates true profit for the store. Please understand that for the international stores dealing with Japanese brands, it is completely a labor of love. Very little profit is made and it barely makes up for the risks taken to get the items in the shop. It may seem ridiculous, but people love these brands and want to help the brands themselves by selling on an international stage. Without these markups, there would be no point to carry the brand at all on this sort of retail level. If an American store sold to you at Japanese retail, they would basically be giving you an item for free, along with another $500 out of their cash drawer. It is an incredibly difficult situation, but one can only hope that the consumer understands the difficulty the stores go through for these brands and they will pay the extra amount for the personal experience of shopping for them firsthand from a retailer who has taken the risk to create this opportunity.