Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History

"American Drugstores"

Translation of “Beikoku no kusuriya,” in Hoshi seiyaku kabushiki gaisha shahō, October 1, 1917. Translated by Timothy Yang.

Based on the observations of company employee, Anraku (Eiji), who recently returned to Japan.

Ease of access is the American way

When one first steps into a town in America, and walk along its streets, if one asks what kind of shop will most catch your eye, the answer would undoubtedly be a drugstore. Among all the stores in America, I believe there are really no stores better able to attract the attention of passersby—or, moreover, as approachable—as drugstores. When wandering the streets, drugstores can bring one to a halt—one suddenly might want to borrow a light, and without hesitation, one enters under a drugstore's awning. This is because of the structure and location of American drugstore, which are ideally suited for attracting customers—in other words, it is due to business strategy. That is why the most important point to pay attention to, when opening a drugstore, is the location and structure of the store. And, consequently, it is why they are the most ingenious among stores in America.

Friendly and convenient facilities

The first thing to pay attention to is the location—the way drugstores really operate seems to involve controlling a corner of an intersection or the end of a T-shaped street. It is even much possible to confuse the facilities of a proprietor-managed store with rest areas established for pedestrians. Such places provide telephones, chairs, tables, beverages—and even special bathrooms for women—for the benefit of consumers. This is because there are no such things as public bathrooms on American streets: when male pedestrians want to relieve themselves, then think of liquor store [bar]; for women, there is the drugstore. Inside, a well-equipped store also has things like examination rooms. There are even stores that provide places so-called special rooms, which are rooms used for customers who seek medicines, but are too embarrassed to talk about their symptoms in front of other customers. There is truly no stone left unturned! The most remarkably convenient of all are drugstores that are open all-night, for people with sudden nighttime illnesses. Even if there are no such drugstores in an area, stores are equipped with a nighttime bell. That is to say, if one rings a bell, one can purchase medicine at all times, even in the dead of night. For acutely ill people, there is no saying how much this reduces the worry that medical care might be beyond their reach. In Japan, where doctors can refuse to see patients after midnight, it is necessary to ponder over the example of American drugstores. Furthermore, the meticulous cleanliness of the store is most convincing way drugstores promote public health and hygiene; even at times when one feels a bit blue, one will immediately feel invigorated upon entering the store.

Beautiful window decorating and friendly store clerks

I had previously stated that “walking along the streets, one's feet unconsciously stop in front of a drugstore.” This is because the window decorations are really striking and beautifully made. Just as people nod if one says French-made for cosmetics, for windows one says American-made. But, equally beautiful and matching in quality are store window decorations in America, and, among these, many drugstores have worked hard to achieve excellence. Window decorations are also changed once a week, in order to catch the eyes of people passing by. It truly seems like there are very few holes in the business strategy. In addition, the point that one must learn, which is necessary in any business, particularly for drugstores, is that store clerks in America are extremely kind. They are extremely polite, even in trivial matters, and take every precaution to avoid, at all costs, any customer discomfort or displeasure. This method of receiving customers is reasonable because people have different reasons for coming to purchase medicines, and have anxieties in their hearts, or, at any rate, feel ill at ease.

Looking at it from one side, it's a general store

Similarly, another way one can see the appearance of kindheartedness is how most of the drugstores in a town also serve as places for distributing postage stamps, among other items, without handling fees. In America, there is no such thing as an agency (urisabakijo) for selling things like postage stamps, other than in post offices. So drugstores handle these services for the public's convenience. Moreover, because they sell candies, cosmetics, stationery, tobacco, etc. in addition to selling medicines, if you look at it from one side, drugstores in America look like general stores. In summary, these are the characteristics of drugstores in America: 1. Approachable and easily accessible to the community; 2. Gives off a clean and refreshing feeling; and 3. Friendliness for avoiding any unpleasantries that may arise. As medicine sellers, there are lots of points we should learn.

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