Archive for the ‘Kimono for women’ Category

What do Kimonos Cost?

Saturday, July 24th, 2021

We received a question from a customer asking why kimono and yukata are offered at different prices.  There are many reasons why a Japanese robe is priced the way it is. The most basic reason is that a retailer can pick and choose whatever price they want. As an example, let’s look at two stores. The ABC store sells a widget for $10.00 while the XYZ store offers the same product for $15.00.  It’s a choice each store owner makes and there are a variety of reasons for this.

The ABC Store may buy larger quantities from the manufacturer and receive a lower cost or discount for the volume purchase. They may have lower shipping costs and maybe lower overhead. It could simply be that the ABC store feels they are making a reasonable profit at $10.00. Every retailer has their own reasons why they charge what they do. The XYZ store may pay more for rent and pay more for labor and sales staff.

Chopa Zen Home has been a leading online retailer of Kimono and Yukata robes since 1994. Our number one goal when we started was and still is to offer quality robes at reasonable prices. We don’t attempt to be the low-price leader, nor do we want to be the most expensive. Being the most expensive retailer doesn’t necessarily mean you have the highest quality and best product. Being in business since 1994 has provided us with a deep level of understanding, experience and knowledge about the kimono market in the USA.

We purchase our kimono clothing from experienced, reputable, high-quality providers. We have longstanding agreements and constantly strive to accommodate each other, maintain a successful partnership and a great working relationship. This philosophy has long endured and is a reason why we are still a successful provider of beautiful kimono robes today. We have seen many firms come and go over the last three decades, but we stick with and maintain the principals we started with. One question we ask ourselves regularly is, would we purchase a specific kimono at the price we offer it?  The answer is yes, or we decide on a lower price or discontinue the item. There needs to be a reasonable profit or no retailer stays in business. Businesses have overhead including the cost of goods, advertising, utilities, rent, labor, taxes, insurance, duties, shipping and an array of other costs.

Pricing has a lot to do with the fabric. Obviously a nicer, richer and heavier fabric costs more to produce a robe than a lesser quality material. This is how our producers determine their costs, profit and asking prices. A retailer does the same. Sometimes we have two yukata that appear similar and are made with the same fabric but one costs $10.00 more than the other. The reason for this is usually tied to the cost of the fabric and mainly the printing and dyeing of the material. Solid colors are made by dying fabrics. Designs are made by printing on a dyed fabric. The more detailed the print, the costlier the end product is because there are more steps in printing, more time involved, more labor more dye or inks and this longer process adds up. A robe with one or two colors, not withstanding the underlying fabric will cost less to produce than one with 9 or 10 colors.

Sizing also plays a vital factor in determination of price.  A size small uses one amount of fabric while an large uses more. Manufacturers will usually blend the cost between the first few sizes because a larger size may leave less cutting or material waste while the smaller may have more.  Patterns can have an effect on the cost based on the cutting patterns. Some patterns must be cut a specific way for sewing, so the pattern isn’t lost or out of place. Wider sizes obviously cost more because more fabric is needed. Special collars, sleeves and other variables all play a part in pricing.

We recently shopped around to comparison shop and were surprised to see major price differences.  A specific kimono was available at one online store for $69.00 while the same robe was offered at another for $129.00.  Others listed the same robe at $89.00 and $99.00.  This proves there are anomalies in the market place but seeing this wide of a variance proves that some retailers are simply overpricing. No matter what the shipping costs, labor and overhead, if one retailer can justify selling the robe for $69.00 and making a fair profit to stay in business, how can the one asking $129.00 justify that price?

Chopa stands behind its history, longevity, customer service and fair pricing. We have many repeat customers and receive many compliments and thank you letters  throughout the year.  This is not only gratifying to us, but it proves to us that we are Your Kimono Source for styles, variety, sizing and price.  We offer easy returns if you are not satisfied with your purchase and are based and operated in the USA. We have made kimono shopping easy by taking the guesswork out of online shopping. When looking for a kimono, yukata or short length kimono or Happi Coat, Shop with Confidence, shop with Chopa Zen Home.

kimono fabrics

Photo courtesy of Beth MacDonald

Best Selling Kimono for June 2021

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Chopa Zen Home has been a leading online supplier of Japanese Kimono and Yukata since 1994.  We offer a large selection of patterns, styles and sizes for men, women and kids. From the beginning, we offered a variety of Asian style home decor, tatami mats, furnishings, accessories, meditation supplies and of course Kimono and Yukata.  We realized many years ago that these fashionable robes were our pride and joy. Not only do our staff wear them, but also our friends and family members.  Rarely a birthday or gift giving holiday passes without our group perusing our online catalog deciding which yukata or kimono to buy for the lucky recipients.

In October, 2018 our warehouse was a victim of hurricane Michael. This category 5 storm tore apart many lives, homes and businesses in the the Florida Panhandle and beyond.  While our offices suffered great damage, we were fortunate that none of our staff or their families were harmed and for that we are forever grateful.  It was at this point we had some decision making to do.  Some staff were reluctant to stay in the area and moved on to other cities. Among our partners, several had been considering retiring or moving on to do something else. After careful discussion, meetings with staff, the outlook for rebuilding in the area and a lot of soul searching, we made the decision to focus solely on what always made us the happiest; Japanese kimono and Yukata robes. To us, wearing a robe is like wearing art. The colors, styles and patterns are distinct, beautiful and symbolic. Coming home after a long day and slipping on a soft, comfortable yukata makes everything feel alright.

We still receive emails from former customers asking about items we used to carry.  They are sometimes disappointed to hear we no longer offer Asian home décor, but most understand.  To those who inquires we say, the show must go on and like a cherry blossom blooming for a short period of time, life is similar. Like the seasons, life brings change and people move on.

For the next chapter, we are now in our third year of offering Japanese kimono exclusively and we couldn’t be happier. We are excited with new ideas we have and future changes in store. Like a fine wine, some things take time, but we are patient and want to do it right.  Our customers are of the utmost importance to us and we are grateful for each and every one.  We have many repeat customers who like us, buy for gifting or simply add to their loungewear wardrobe. Coming home to a kimono or yukata waiting for you is like coming home to a piece of Japan.

June was another fantastic month at Chopa. Lots of different styles departed our warehouse. It is always exciting to see customer choices as orders come across our system. Due to higher summer volumes we shipped six days a week this month including Saturdays. We faced some delays of orders that shipped through USPS and couldn’t really get an answer from the local terminal as to the reason.  Packages delivered to them were sometimes held for several days before they scanned and forwarded onto the next station along the route to the recipient.  One employee that spoke with us “off the record” blamed the Amazon Prime Days for the delays. This along with other online retailers that wanted to compete with Amazon and held similar sales in the same time frame.  We also saw a surge during this time window so its possible that people just decided to get online and spend some money.  After all summer is upon us and many decide to shop online rather than go outside and brave these hot, humid days. Chopa monitors many of our shipments and carriers to determine if any issues arise.  When we observe some delays like the handful we saw, we emailed our customers to let them know.  It is frustrating as a delay in shipping isn’t something we base our service standards on and we know how much customers like receiving their packages quickly. We do too!

Thanks to all of your business in June.  July is already starting out busier than June and we anticipated this with new shipments of kimono and yukata arriving daily during the middle of the month. More short length kimono and wide, plus sized kimono are back in stock.

Here are the Best Selling Kimono for June, 2021.

  1. Blue Koi
  2. Eternal Chain
  3. Tree of Life
  4. White Moji
  5. Pink Cherry Blossom

kimono-mail

Image courtesy of: Joel Moysuh

Is Scrooge Visiting for Christmas?

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which brought worldwide closures, shut-downs, lock-downs and layers of additional government regulations, many retail operators are bracing themselves for what could become big shortages of merchandise for the Christmas Holiday shopping season.

Target, Walmart, Amazon.com and other retailers reported to Reuters News that they were attempting to place holiday orders for goods as early as possible this year. Besides backlogs in the manufacturing sector, shippers are facing major hurdles trying to keep up with soaring demand for container space on ships transporting goods over the oceans.

Across the globe, shipping ports are backed up, shipping containers are scarce and ships are experiencing delays entering ports and unloading goods. The Port of Los Angeles is experiencing record high volumes of container processing. Adding to these delays, China recently shut down or minimized operations at three major shipping ports due to a rise in Covid cases. In the U.S., once containers are unloaded there is a fight for the limited number of chassis available. Chassis are used to mobilize the large steel boxes for truckers to haul to their destination. Beyond these problems, truckers are in shorter supply as more veterans quit or retire and the younger generation has less interest entering the trucking business as a career, thus diminishing the number of truckers overall.

All of these situations are putting intense pressure on the price of goods. The rate to ship a 40′ container from Shanghai to Los Angeles was recently quoted at $9500.00.  One year ago, the same rate would have been under $3000.00. The cost of container rentals has seen large increases as have chassis rentals, trucking and shipping costs. Some US importers report their containers getting bumped from ships because other parties offer a higher bid for the ship space days or even hours before the ship sails. Additional surcharges imposed by shipping operators are also adding fuel to the demand fire.

Whether it’s toys, computers, electronics or clothing, many retailers and suppliers are warning customers to shop early this year. Others are quick to point out that they don’t expect much in discounting either. When there is a shortage of goods along with high demand, there isn’t a compelling reason to do offer sales. This year, retailers are facing lower margins to begin with. Many are absorbing as much of these cost increases as possible to remain consistent and competitive, but at some point they must wave the white flag and surrender. If they don’t make a profit, they don’t have a business.

One retail operator who ships packages regularly through her online business expressed disappointment with parcel carriers like UPS and FedEx. She stated that these carriers raise their prices each and every year, but also add additional surcharges in some situations during the holiday season. She explained how FedEx adds a $26.00 surcharge on top of existing rates for packages over 50 lbs. She sells over a dozen outdoor items on her website that weigh around 60 pounds and says she is absorbing the additional cost, but isn’t sure she can do so much longer.  Her product costs have already risen 10-18% on average because manufacturers are experiencing raw material and labor cost increases. Add that to rising import and shipping rates, growing packaging costs, her own higher labor costs and domestic carrier shipping costs, she adds “we only have so much profit to work from and all of these outside issues are eating away at the pie. There is barely any left at the end of the day.” Inflation has certainly been in the news over the past few months and while the Federal Reserve is dismissing it as transitory, many others, especially ones running businesses are losing confidence and believe higher prices are here to stay.

Many businesses are also struggling to find labor. Advertisements for help are at near all-time highs, but roughly 16 million people are still at home accepting some form of government assistance left over from stimulus bills and subsidies. Whatever the reason, and people do have reasons for not wanting or not being able to work, the situation doesn’t seem to be ending in the near future.

Chopa Zen Home has been working diligently with our providers in Japan to continue offering fine kimono and yukata to our customers throughout the Pandemic and we will work hard to do so in the future. Japan is still facing capacity issues with lock downs and partial closures. We have rearranged and restructured our production schedules to better align with their manufacturing abilities. If a select fabric or print isn’t available, we back order it and move on to what is deliverable. We have also faced large shipping cost increases and so far, have absorbed these.  In fact, we recently reduced our standard ground shipping cost to just $6.95 and continue to offer Free Shipping on orders of $75.00 or more within the USA. Rather than getting bottlenecked at shipping ports and having orders delayed for weeks or months, we have mainly turned to Air Freight to obtain our shipments directly. It is much more expensive than Ocean rates, but allows us to maintain a broader and more diverse inventory on a regular basis.

While we don’t anticipate shortages of kimono and yukata per se, we would encourage customers to shop earlier. While receiving smaller monthly shipments throughout the year, we rely on large quantity shipments in the Spring, Summer and Fall. Our annual Fall shipment normally arrives in time for the Christmas shopping season and allows us to offer a great selection of styles, patterns and sizing. But we are well aware of the many obstacles facing retailers this year and sometimes events occur beyond our control. We normally publish an extended return window well before the Holiday gift buying season which allows you to shop early and still be able to return or exchange a robe after Christmas. As always, we welcome feedback, ideas, comments and the like. Use our online contact form to send us a message, post below on this Blog or visit us on Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

holiday shopping

Photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio.

Kimonos and Covid – The Challenges

Thursday, June 24th, 2021

We received a steady stream of questions during the peak and early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak beginning in March, 2020.  Customers  asked if our kimonos were safe? Was there risk of obtaining the virus from our kimono and yukata? What precautions were we taking? Were we open? Since we import from Japan, how safe were our robes? The answer to these questions, was that yes, our kimono were and are safe. Yes, we took and take a lot of precautions. Yes, we were and are open.

Chopa Zen Home stocks a rather large inventory of kimono and yukata robes throughout the year. Even with the outbreak, we had plenty of kimono in stock that we received months before any outbreak of the virus was known.  Our inventory levels constantly turn as orders ship out and new deliveries arrive. Some styles sell quicker than others, while some have unusual patterns similar to many retail products in your local store. Style XYZ may sell just a few one week, then the next week rolls around and sales of that style explode.  We don’t always know why this happens, but it is part of the business and we try our best to adjust and move with the flow. Tracking previous sales patterns establishes a baseline for future sales, but there are always outliers that can take place and that is when things become unpredictable. A story may be shown on TV about kimonos, a movie may run several times over a weekend that showed the Japanese lifestyle and actors wearing yukata. A well known celebrity may appear wearing a kimono and we see a spike in sales, especially in that particular style.

Our producers in Japan were very cautious throughout the pandemic and remain so.  Masks are worn, hands are sanitized, gloves are used and many staff members work remotely or in well ventilated rooms with partitions set up between each work station. Orders are packed with care, boxed, sealed and shipped air freight which lessens the time in transit.  Once they arrive, our staff uses the same practices to assure their safety as well as our customers. Masks, gloves, partitions, some remote work and constant sanitizing are and were the norm for many months. With so many people in the USA staying home through furloughs, work-at-home assignments and business closures, we saw a large increase in business like many other online retailers did. People were afraid to go to stores to shop, discovered the many benefits of online shopping and wanted casual things to wear while at home. Since Kimono and Yukata robes are so popular as loungewear, shopping for kimonos was an easy choice, especially with our large selection of prints, colors and sizes. We are proud to say we introduced many new customers to the fine luxury of wearing a yukata while lounging, working at home or taking care of kids and the Homefront. Welcome to all of our new customers and thank you for all of your kind words you sent our way. It is always a joy to read how much customers love their robes. It is also gratifying to see how many repeat purchases are made as people realize they want a second or third kimono to expand their new style at home.

Chopa is happy to report that we had zero infections among staff and families throughout the pandemic. The precautions we took benefitted everyone involved and our staff meetings were open for everyone to share experiences outside of the office, to relay what precautions they took when venturing out for groceries, gasoline, errands and the like.  Sharing our stories went a long way in educating ourselves on what or what not to do to stay safe.

With shutdowns and ongoing government restrictions in Japan we came across and still face challenges to keep our selection as full as possible. Sometimes we have to scale back orders or adjust timeframes in production. Other times we make adjustments solely to help our partners and producers. It was often more difficult on them, since many of their customers shut down and business slowed. There were restrictions on workdays, openings, number of people allowed in one workspace location and more. Obtaining fabrics was and still is an  obstacle. Businesses that dye fabrics face mandated closures or went out of business. Some cotton fabrics are still scarce or unavailable. Silk robes have been the most difficult to obtain. We have been unable to offer new silk stock for nearly a year. This sources back to the silk mills where the fabric is made right through to the dyeing and printing of the material.  Chopa anticipates this will change in the coming months and we will be offering beautiful silk kimonos again by the Christmas season. Silk Happi Coats are always popular as gifts. Soft, silky, smooth to the touch, short and sexy, they make magical gifts for men and women.

If you shop our online store and see some empty slots of a particular size or pattern, don’t hesitate to send us a text or email and ask.  We are working hard each day doing what we can to keep adequate supplies for large and full selections of kimono robes, but sometimes things happen beyond our control. We can always provide you with an update and we maintain a courtesy email notification service. When a style or size you seek is out of stock, ask us to put you on this alert system. When that yukata or kimono arrives, we will notify you by email. There is no obligation to complete a purchase, we only email you once and your email will not be used for marketing. It is deleted once we send out the notice.  Once again, we thank all of our customers for your support. As always, let us know what you think.

photo by cottonbro

Photo courtesy of cottonbro.

Top 5 Sellers for May 2021 – Consumers Demand Comfort

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2021

One of the retail categories that saw large spikes in sales during the Pandemic was loungewear. It makes sense because whether you were shut in from mandated lock downs or working from home, people like to feel relaxed and comfortable at home. Analysis from a recent study of retailers showed a large jump in loungewear sales online, with some reporting double and triple digit sales gains over the prior year. Many stores found little reason to advertise and promote swimwear last summer and instead saw the demand for loungewear and jumped on it.

Many customers prefer something unique and different rather than a pair of sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt to lay around the home. Whether you are doing chores, binge watching your favorite TV series, cooking or catching up on your reading, Japanese Kimono and Yukata robes have become a popular alternative.  The prints and styles are striking and beautiful. With the wrap around style of these robes, they can be loose fitting or tied more snugly depending on what you are doing and how you are feeling. After all, nothing feels better than cool cotton when hanging out at home. Those that want an even lighter feel turn to Happi Coats. Happi Coats are shorter length versions of kimono and yukata. They are available in several lengths and have one or two side pockets making it easier to keep your glasses or cell phone close to you.

We received several notes from customers who were on work-at-home assignments and expressed their desire to permanently work from home. One customer, Janice said if she was granted the opportunity she would buy five yukata and Happi Coats so she could wear a different one each work day. She thought it would give herself the feeling of a traditional workplace with the added luxury of loungewear.  We can’t argue with her.  Another customer said his work at home team enjoyed their daily Zoom teleconference calls because he wore a different kimono each day. They all wanted to know where he was getting them from and was happy to refer several new customers to us over the months.  Thank you Ben, we always appreciate referrals.

Another longtime customer of ours discovered another benefit of the Happi Coats. She wore them out when she went to pick up food for dinner or had to drop something off at the post office. Ellen shared with us that she would never feel comfortable heading out of the house in a regular bathrobe, but in a Happi Coat she was making a fashion statement. Slip on a pair of shorts or jeans and she was good to go. She regularly received compliments from others and it not only boosted her confidence, but she started trying on different outfits at home preparing for the days when America fully reopens again. She discovered that her Happi coats complimented some of her slacks and jeans even with heels.  She plans on educating her girlfriends when they start heading out again on weekends to restaurants and clubs. She calls this fashion Street-Chic. Ellen, we welcome your photos if you would like to share, so we can show the rest of our Happi Coat audience. Happi Coats, they aren’t just for lounging anymore!

Each month we like to share with our customers what is currently popular among the kimono and yukata we offer.

For the month of May, 2021, here are the Top Five Sellers:

  1. Yukata – Red Crane and Tree
  2. Yukata – Pink Cherry Blossom
  3. Yukata – Eternal Chain
  4. Yukata – Blue Dawn
  5. Yukata – Dragon and Bamboo

Three of the ladies styles made the Top Five this month. Sales were brisk early on as Mother’s Day was approaching. Don’t forget about Father’s Day. It’s just a few weeks away. Nothing would make Dad happier than lounging in a summer yukata. Happi Coats make great cover ups at the beach and pool. If Dad is an active swimmer, give some thought to this unique gift idea. Thanks for reading, we will be back soon with another blog. Please comment below or email us with any questions, comments or thoughts, we love hearing from our customers and might mention you in a future post.

 

blue dawn yukata

Blue Dawn Yukata

red crane yukata

Red Crane and Tree Yukata

Do you leave reviews about a business?

Saturday, May 29th, 2021

customer service

 

We receive a steady flow of positive reviews, compliments and thank you notes from customers and work hard to provide all customers with a great shopping experience. Once in a while, we receive a complaint, which can be expected since people have different assumptions about what their experience will be. Thankfully, the complaints are far and few between, which lets us believe we are doing the right thing, communicating well, offering great products, fair pricing and excellent service. In business, a customer that has a negative experience is likely to leave a bad review. This is especially true today with social media and online reviews making it so easy to post. On the flip side, a customer that has a great experience is less likely to leave a positive review. In general, only one in ten happy customers will leave positive feedback.

Since we receive so many positive comments and reviews, it surprised us recently when a customer left us a negative review on a rating site. It was the customer’s first experience shopping with us and we are certain their last. The puzzling piece about this feedback was that the customer never contacted us to discuss the matter or give us a chance to rectify their complaint. Instead, they chose to post and broadcast to the world how bad we are as a company in general.  Because of one issue, this customer labeled all of our products as inferior and not worth the money.  The comment was difficult to swallow considering we have over 100 products and have served over 32,000 happy customers.  If we offer such poor quality products as was claimed, how would we last over 25 years in this business? It simply made no sense to us.

As we read and discussed the review in a staff meeting, it became more obvious to us that this person damaged the robe through their own negligence.  At first, they implied that the kimono arrived with tears in it and claimed that because our return policy was too difficult, they were now stuck with this robe. They also elaborated on being a near-expert on Japanese kimonos because of some life experience. Granted, we are ad-libbing a bit here and everyone, especially customers are entitled to their opinions, but as a reputable kimono dealer for nearly three decades, it became evident after their story changed a few times that this person simply wanted to blame someone else rather than accept their own responsibility for their situation.

We are confident that the kimono arrived in perfect condition, it was worn a few times, they tore it and wanted to pass blame on us. Otherwise, why wouldn’t you have reached out to us to ask for a replacement?  If we ever make a mistake by sending out the wrong color, size, or the robe actually had a flaw, we stand by our reputation and would have corrected the issue at our expense. Our manufacturers have stringent quality assurance plans in place. We receive very few returns and of those we receive, most are simple exchanges. Everyone is human and if we make a mistake, we fix it. Unfortunately today, there are people that just don’t want to accept responsibility for their own actions and instead choose to blame others. We believe this customer purchased a size that was too small and that is how it tore. This would happen with nearly all fabrics. If stretched and pulled with too much force, cotton will tear.

This reminded us of how fragile business review systems are today. With the internet, information is passed at lightning speed and with little recourse. The right thing to do when you are unhappy with a situation is to contact the business and discuss it with them. Don’t become frustrated and paint an unrealistic and untrue picture of someone. We look at all reviews and comments with the utmost attention and seriousness. Negative reviews are harmful to a reputation and can be difficult to overcome. We have made exceptions to our policies and have gone out of our way to make a customer happy. No business wants an unhappy customer. If this person would have reached out to us, we might have been able to do something, but we were never given a chance. In the end we both lost.

Be aware of the importance of good communication and feedback.  If you have a problem with something you buy or a service you hire, give the business a chance to help and fix an issue. You could save yourself money, save your sanity and above all, focus on believing in people and businesses rather than being angry and aggressive. It isn’t good for your soul and certainly isn’t good for anyone around you.  It is a good lesson and one we will remember.  Life is too short, be happy!

Which Kimono or Yukata Should I Buy?

Saturday, May 22nd, 2021

online kimono shopping

We receive frequent inquiries from customers asking us to recommend a kimono or yukata.  Questions vary from sizing, fabrics or shipping times and we are always happy to help.  But, if we are asked to recommend a print, we like to expand on the subject and offer some insight into the symbolism of these robes. It isn’t that we can’t suggest a particular style or personal favorite, but we prefer to share our love of these robes and educate our customers on the meaning of the patterns. We believe selecting a Japanese robe is a personal choice and it should be recognized as such. Some would even say it is sacred.

In general, sizing is fairly straightforward. To determine the length of the robe you want to wear, place the end of a tape measure on your shoulder and let it fall down your side or in front of you. Kimono and yukata are available in standard lengths of 54″, 56″, 58″, 60″, 62″ and 64″. You can decide which length fits your needs and style. Some customers prefer a full length robe to the top of their feet, others want it to fall above their ankles and others prefer it to reach their shins or fall to the knees. If you seek a shorter length kimono or yukata, shop for a Happi Coat. Happi Coats are short length kimono and yukata. These short length robes are available in 35″ 42″ and 45″ lengths.  These are popular in the summer and used as coverups at the pool or beach, lounging around the house or to add some allure for your spouse or significant other.

Next, measure your waistline and hips.  Measure the circumference or girth at the widest part of your waist and hips. Reputable dealers will offer a selection of sizes in length and width. It is common for clothing to fit individuals differently, but this process will provide you with a better understanding of how the robe might fit you. Kimono and yukata are wraparound robes, meaning the left side is pulled over the right side and tied or held in place by a sash or belt.  Normally 8-12″ is adequate for the length of the fold over.  You want to allow some room to move, stretch or adjust comfortably so it isn’t too tight. Chopa was one of the first dealers on the web to offer wide or plus sized kimono and yukata. Americans are generally larger in size than their Japanese counterparts, so the larger sizing is a welcome feature.

Once you determine an appropriate size, the fun part begins, choosing a pattern or print. The joy of Japanese kimono and yukata lie within the beautiful prints and patterns available. Whether it’s a flower, bird, dragon, fish or artistic print, let your inner self make the decision.  Ask what inspires you? What motivates or drives you? If you are purchasing a robe as a gift, it works the same way. Analyze the recipient. What kind of person are they? What traits make them unique? What in their personality stands out in your mind?

The symbolism of the kimono and yukata is wide ranging.  For example, the dragon is considered a protector of mankind and represents strength, courage and wisdom. The koi fish represents fortune, good luck and abundance. A crane symbolizes long life and good health. Bamboo suggests prosperity, strength and flexibility. A kamon is a crest used to identify a family, its origins and often to be of a higher class, or nobility like Samurai or Shogun. The peony is considered the flower of good fortune, nobility and honor.

When shopping for a kimono or yukata, read the style description to understand the meaning of the pattern or design. Look within and decide what characteristics you have and find a matching pattern. Are you a dragon, a koi fish or do you resonate with a mum or iris flower?  If you are selecting a gift, what type of person are you giving this too? What symbolism matches their personal character? When presenting a kimono or yukata as a gift, explain the meaning of the pattern to the recipient and it will make the gift much more special. You might even enlighten the recipient when you discuss the symbolism.  Perhaps you see traits in the individual that he or she does not. It may shed a light on their persona that they didn’t realize they had.

Of course, for as beautiful as kimono are, you can always select a robe simply because you like the pattern. If you like a style, buy it and wear it with great joy. Many Japanese patterns date back over 1000 years ago and are inspired by nature. Symbolism is very important and revered in Japanese culture. Wearing a kimono or yukata can make you feel like a part of the Land of the Rising Sun. Happy Shopping!

 

Why We Don’t Require Registration To Shop With Us.

Sunday, May 16th, 2021

no registration required

To register or not to register. The choice is yours!

Customers sometimes ask if registration is required on our website and the answer is always, absolutely not. While we do offer the registration feature, we never require anyone to do so and will never pressure you into it.  Some customers like having an account where they can review their purchases, check on past orders, and more.  We understand this, but also recognize it should be a personal choice and your decision.

With online shopping so popular and convenient these days, it is evident that a growing number of companies require it.  If you are a buyer of supplies for your business, make frequent purchases at a specific site or shop for a household several times a week, we understand the benefits. But, people are becoming more concerned about online data than ever before and rightly so. There are convenience factors with an online account, but with cyber security theft and attacks in the news almost daily, many customers feel that the less personal information stored on the web, the better.  We tend to agree. We also avoid online stores that make you register just to see their products.

Why do some companies require it?  In simple terms, to track and use the information to market to you and sell more products.  Companies spend billions of dollars each year to tap into customer data. With online registration accounts, businesses can watch your shopping patterns, determine when you shop, what products interest you the most and even analyze and rank you based on your transactions. This is something we have chosen not to do.  A registered account is for the customer’s convenience only and we do not track information from account registrations. We do not monitor registered online accounts, track you, watch you or stalk you. That is a promise.

We, like our customers, want to be treated fairly, discreetly and largely unmonitored when we shop online, and a mandatory registration is something we frown on. We find it a turn off and know it can turn away a customer.  Most of us here at Chopa, admit to leaving an online site at some point, if we had to register.  It can be annoying, frustrating and a nuisance.  Between work and home, it isn’t uncommon to already have an ocean of logons and passwords we have to deal with, so why add another one? This is especially true if you are making a unique purchase or a one time buy. If you are buying a green, two-sided, polka dot widget with sparkles online, why would you want to register if you won’t need another one for five years?

Most people are aware of the incessant tracking done regularly today. It has become a byproduct of our online activities. If you are on social media such as Facebook, Twitter or just using your cellphone, you are being tracked, monitored and your data is being stored, analyzed, used and profited from. Chopa might be a small piece of the world’s puzzle we live in and play on, but we do our part to be as minimally invasive as possible.  One of our mottos has long been, “Shop with Confidence” and that holds true with online registrations. They are optional and the decision to register is yours and only yours.  If you have thoughts, comments or experiences on this subject, we invite you to share your ideas. We always welcome feedback. We also appreciate online privacy and this is something that is being taken away, site by site and day by day.  Our message to all, Stay Safe. It’s the Wild West out there.

 

 

 

 

It’s a story we hear over and over……

Friday, May 14th, 2021
kimono gift

The gift of a kimono.

We received a very nice message the other day from a customer that wanted to thank us for “the beautiful selection of Kimono and Yukata robes “we offer and to share an experience they had with an overseas dealer.  This client purchased a kimono from a “marketplace” in Japan  as a birthday gift for her husband.  Their website claimed they were located in Japan and extensively scoured dozens of cities for the best kimono available.  They claimed they had private connections with shops that produced the finest robes and even alluded that they had some form of a limited government license making them an exclusive provider.

She placed her order online and was looking forward to receiving her robe in 5-7 days as they advertised. She paid $20 for a shipping  upgrade to have the package insured and be trackable.  She became concerned as three weeks passed and no sign of her kimono and no information on the tracking number she received.  She emailed the company several times but didn’t receive a response.  When she checked her card statement online, she was surprised to find that she was charged in Japanese yen instead of dollars.  The amount billed was nearly $20 more than what she thought she was being charged and she was assessed foreign transaction and currency conversion fees by her credit card issuer which added even more to her final purchase price.

Another ten days and completely dismayed at this point, she was surprised when a package arrived.  She eagerly opened it but was upset when she saw the robe, because it was a different pattern than what she ordered.  While it wasn’t the print she ordered, she thought she would keep it because the birthday was getting closer.  When she felt the material, it didn’t feel like cotton, but a bit slippery.  She looked at the tag to see what material it was, but the tag wasn’t printed in English. Unable to decipher the language she was able to identify one word, China. She new she was duped and became even more frustrated.

She emailed the company again asking to return the kimono and relay some of her frustration.  She received a reply 5 days later. In their response, the company claimed the robes were made in China but produced for Japanese export.  This explanation didn’t sit well and she knew she had been taken advantage of.  They said she could return it but the cost was her responsibility, even though they sent the wrong kimono and it wasn’t as advertised.  Begrudgingly, she went to the post office to send it back, but was shocked when the postal clerk told her with shipping, insurance and tracking the cost was over $60.00. Rather than risking this much money and fearing they may not refund her anyway, she decided against it. She didn’t have any trust in this company.

Ironically, a teacher in her child’s school was fluent in Chinese and she asked her to translate the tag. She determined the fabric was viscose, which is a synthetic type of rayon fabric made from wood pulp and processed with chemicals.  The tag was completely in Chinese, there was no mention of Japanese exporting and it even included the address of the factory showing it was made in China. The story the dealer provided her was completely false.

She had just about given up the idea of giving her husband a kimono when she performed an online search and found Chopa. After checking our reviews and seeing we were based in the USA, she sent us an email with a few questions about our robes, the shipping times, our return policy and was impressed with our response time of less than 15 minutes. She decided to give us a try and we gained a new customer.

She felt compelled to send us a summary of her experience with the overseas dealer versus her shopping experience with us. In her words, “it was night and day.”  She placed her order, it shipped the same day and arrived two days later. She was even more pleased that it was what she ordered, the size was right, true to our word and it had tags that stated “Made in Japan.”  In essence, we allowed her to regain her trust in online shopping and she couldn’t be happier.  Her husband received his gift in time for his birthday and she says “he wears it everyday and absolutely loves it.”

We are sorry for anyone that goes through an experience like she did, but hope more people realize the benefits of buying local in your own country from a reputable retailer.  Chopa opened its online store in 1994 and we have been serving customers for over 27 years. It is gratifying to hear from clients that appreciate what we do and what we offer.  There is a rule of thumb in business that for every compliment you receive, there are a dozen more just like them, but go untold. We understand people get busy, intend to write, but forget and we are okay with that.  We base our success on the number of customers we have helped, including many repeat customers and the very low number of returns we receive. Of the few returns we do get, most of those are simple exchanges for a different size. We appreciate customer feedback.  If you have a story to share, send us an email, we would love to hear from you.

 

And the WINNERS are…..Top Five Sellers for April, 2021

Thursday, May 6th, 2021

Top selling kimono

Each month we like to celebrate and wrap up the month with our Best Selling Kimono and Yukata list. This idea came as a result of our customers who write us and asked for ideas about which Kimono or Yukata would be the right one for a gift, a spouse, a kid, significant other or even themselves. While we always point out that selecting a kimono is simply a personal choice, we are happy to provide feedback if they have certain questions or need comparison information. We have been selling kimono and yukata for over 27 years and have learned at least a thing or two.

This has become a fun and enjoyable task each month and also helps us with inventory, ordering needs and knowing what’s the most popular choice during the past 30 days. Check back each month if you have an interest in what the current trend is for the most popular Japanese robes. We received an email  from a repeat customer the other day, who had been sitting on the fence deciding on a choice for his next yukata.  He has purchased several from us over the past year and wanted to add to his collection.  He mentioned that he sometimes has a hard time deciding because of the many styles we offer, but began to look at this list we publish monthly and said it really helped him. His newest yukata was shipped last month and he wrote us to say he couldn’t be more happy with his choice.  He wanted us to give a shout out to our customers for helping him decide. This customer thinks he is getting older and has a harder time making decisions to which we say, you are not getting older, just becoming more “retro”. Last month was his birthday and we included a nice little gift with his purchase. It’s the little things like this that make us love what we do.  We love hearing from customers, so if you have thoughts, questions, comments or concerns, please let us know.  You can use the email address listed on our order confirmation or our Contact Us form located on the web.

So, without further delay, here are the TOP FIVE SELLERS in April:

  1. Yukata – Pink Cherry Blossom
  2. Happi Coat – Blue Koi
  3. Yukata – Great Wave – Purple
  4. Yukata – Dragon & Mt. Fuji – Black
  5. Yukata – Dragon and Hawk

We have been very busy shipping Mother’s Day gifts over the past few weeks, so it wasn’t a surprise to see the Pink Cherry Blossom yukata hit the number one spot.  The balance of the list were men’s robes, so it would appear that customers are shopping early for Father’s Day, June 20th, and perhaps picking up yukatas for the warmer summer months. Of course we usually see a brisk shift in business for graduations and weddings from now through the end of July.

Whatever the event you have throughout the year, if you need a unique gift, visit us online at www.chopa.com. We offer a large selection of Japanese robes for men, women and kid’s. We receive dozens and dozens of notes each season telling us what a great idea these were for gifting. Of course, don’t forget Christmas which is our biggest selling season of all. It’s never to early to start a gift list and we offer an extended return window for Christmas purchases which is announced later in the year. For now, let’s just enjoy the warmer weather rolling in and the bright sunny days ahead.  Here in Florida it has already warmed up and the roads and beaches are becoming more crowded each week. Our short length Happi Coats are popular and very stylish as cover ups at the beach or pool. Lounging on the patio with a cool cocktail isn’t a bad idea either.