AKB48 Cafe in Singapore relaunches with new looks, and new goods18 April, 2012 by Mus
After a period of being closed for renovation works, the AKB48 Cafe Singapore re-launched with a new look. With several promotions going on, we visited the cafe to see what changes were made to the design, and how the cafe looks like now. After spending some time in the new cafe, the verdict is in: the results are positive.
The main objective of the renovation of the cafe was to merge the cafe and shop together into a single entity. As opposed to the previous arrangement of having the shop on the second floor of SCAPE and the cafe on the third, this relocation means that visitors will now be able to enter both the shop and cafe on the same level. This somewhat mirrors the AKB48 Cafe and Shop in Japan, where both are next to one another.
Of course, this also meant a re-organization of how the goods are arranged in the shop. The new shop is even smaller than what was previously rather abysmal. However, one does not really notice the smaller size of the shop. Maybe this is due to the window partitioning the shop and cafe entrance, giving an impression of a larger space.
Notable additions to the catalog are items that were available only at the 7&i net-shop in Japan. This means that AKB48 fans who want these items can instead purchase them physically at the shop, instead of having to jump through several hoops to get them on the internet.
One thing that was disappointing during out visit to the revamped AKB48 shop yesterday was that only the popular members had goods on sale; even the members who had come to Singapore did not get space on the shelves for their goods, instead being replaced by the more popular frontgirls. While this is no doubt a wise business move, it was a little disheartening nonetheless. Some who came specifically to take advantage of the local availability of net-only goods left disappointed.
Of course, key-chains were not the only things on sale at the shop. Also available were fridge magnets styled to look like the portraits of the girls you see when you visit the AKB48 Theater in Akihabara.
The re-launch also meant new things for the AKB48 Cafe. Promotions such as free curry rice with a purchase of the AKB48 Official Singapore photosets and a special coaster with every drink purchase meant that many of the fans came down to visit.
The cafe was packed full, with queues forming even before the allotted time for the beginning of the promotion at 5 pm. Many were there to visit the shop and to claim their curry rice. The AKB48 Cafe girls also gave a performance, performing hit songs like NMB48′s Zetsumetsu Kurokami Shoujo and Not Yet’s Naminoori Kakigoori. Unfortunately and to the dismay of many, it was rather early into the event, and many missed it, with no repeat performances this night.
The serving of curry given free was not very large, but it was to be expected. Many who were asked felt that it was sufficient, especially considering that it came free with a purchase anyway.
The re-opening also saw several people visiting the cafe for the first time outside of events. The changed menu, while not particularly new, drew some comments from patrons, with their comments directed at the improved aesthetics of the menu.
We were a little disappointed that the ice-cream didn’t come with free coasters, but were told that the deal was exclusively for drinks, despite the ice-cream costing more than most of the drinks offered and needing coasters anyway.
It remains to be seen if this change in merchandise selection will bring in more customers than usual at the shop. The merging of the cafe and shop is a good change that facilitates shopping, as well as letting customers, who would otherwise be too intimidated to step into the restaurant-esque cafe, check it out.
It also solves the overcrowding problem that sometimes plagued the AKB48 Official Shop on event days; the space outside the cafe is more than sufficient to deal with an influx of people. Hopefully, this signifies a greater variety of goods being brought in and the addition of more net-only exclusives.
Photo of coaster courtesy of Lyrapro.Click here to search CDJapan for official AKB48 goods.