SM Mall of Asia has witnessed its fair share of long queues lately: concerts of pop stars such as Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, and just recently, Lady Gaga’s performance in the Philippines that drew criticisms from religious sectors yet fans lined up for hours just to see the American performer.
Despite calls for boycott and criticisms hurled at the store by animal rights activists, particularly from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation (PETA), the store opened as planned today,Â Friday. Hundreds of eager shoppers queued inside the Mall of Asia in Manila to be the first ones to get a piece of apparel from Japan’s number one clothing label, Uniqlo.
According to stories from social media sites, the first one to line up for Uniqlo’s grand opening came as early as 4AM. After the earliest bird, the crowd continued to grow until it reached its one thousand mark early in the morning. The person, as a reward for his enthusiasm, was included in the store’s ribbon cutting, which was officiated by SM officials, Pasay City mayor Antonio Calixto, Japanese ambassador to the country Toshinao Urabe, and Uniqlo executives Naoki Otoma and Katsumi Kubota.
Lines continued till evening especially with the store’s announcement of offering marked items to be sold at a special price of Php590. The store also gave free ice cream to the first 500 clients plus a free tote bag for shoppers with a single receipt purchase of Php2,000 till Saturday, June 16.
Katsumi Kubota, the company’s chief operations officer, revealed the first Uniqlo store at SM Mall of Asia is just the beginning of their 50-store expansion in Metro Manila alone. Their first store, measuring about 1,550 square meters, has over 100 employees.
“The total value that we offer, which is the combination of our products, stores, people, communications, and marketingâ€”altogether we offer at Uniqlo, which is very unique but made for everybody,” Kubota said.
Uniqlo offers clothing from top to bottom; shades and bedroom slippers included. Aside from their original designs, they also house tees with designs from popular franchises, such as Snoopy, Mickey Mouse, Mobile Suit Gundam, Metal Gear Solid, to name a few.
At the Wednesday media conference organized by Uniqlo, two animal rights activists who claimed they were PETA members disrupted the affair as they shouted and held up signs that said, “Uniqlo Stop Sheep Cruelty.” The protest was in reference to Uniqlo’s use of wool from Australian farmers who continue to practice the brutal mulesing mutilation of sheep. The two activists were pulled out from the vicinity by mall security.
Fast Retailing Co. chairman, president and CEO Tadashi Yanai and Kobota, who were present during the incident refrained from giving any statement to the press.