FamilyMart. You may have seen or visited any of their stores overseas, especially in places like Taiwan, Thailand, and of course… Japan. It is one of the big three convenience stores (or kombini) in Japan, together with 7-Eleven and Lawson, which also has some strong presence overseas.

Last month, Itochu Corporation together with Rustan’s Group and Ayala Corporation has opened FamilyMart’s first branch here in the Philippines. It is located in Glorietta 3 in Makati City.

They will directly compete against 7-Eleven and Mini Stop.

 

When I first heard about another convenience store launching in the Philippines (nothing specific) was sort-of interested but mostly annoyed… Annoyed by the fact that there’s going to be another convenience store that will fight for place & products in an already saturated business.

If you are living in a densely populated area like Mega Manila, then you know that convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Mini Stop can be seen at almost every other corner (Case in point: The University Belt in Manila), and then there are those big supermarket chains & the small “mom & pop” stores.

But when I heard stories on how FamilyMart looks like in other countries, like selling Japanese snacks like Onigiri, Soba and maybe some Bento… I sort of opened up the idea of having another convenience store in this country.

 

Fast-forward, an underground anime group (whom I shall not name for the meantime) has “raided” the FamilyMart branch in Glorietta, and I joined in.

Frankly, I still find it weird that a “convenience store” is located inside a high-class shopping complex, but at least the second branch will be located somewhere more accessible to everyone… MRT-3 – Ayala Station.

 

The first thing that I could think of when I entered FamilyMart was, “Bakit ang luwag?” (Why is it so spacious?), because the store has been separated to two (2) parts… one is the “convenience store” part, and the other is a place to “dine-in.”

I know others use part of their stores for eating in, but even with the tables, chairs, and such… it’s still spacious! Seriously, it feels like I’m inside Starbucks (technically their sister company, because Starbucks Coffee also use the name “Rustan’s Coffee”).

The only thing that is missing are the Free Wi-Fi Access and the hipsters. But then again, this can be a alternate spot for Japanophiles & Otakus! (just kidding…)

But then again, the floor plan may differ in their next branches, since they plan to have 40 or more stores by the end of the year.

 

FamilyMartI have tried some of the things the sell, which are Tuna Onigiri and Chicken with Rice… while my friends had some Cold Soba and Sushi.

Tuna Onigiri taste fine, but it feels like I’m chewing on a Century Tuna rice meal, because the tuna has that flavour even without its oil… The next time I visit FamilyMart, I hope I could try other flavours of Onigiri.

While I have no complaints with the Rice, because it is freshly cooked… The chicken on the other hand, it’s hard. It seems it has been reheated on a microwave, maybe they should consider not using microwave for reheating meats.

Overall, there is some need for improvements when it comes to hot meals, but snacks were great. (I haven’t seen products like Sake though…) The ambience is just a little unusual, but this could be a good change of environment.

The place, however, may be a problem. One thing that concerns me a bit is that since FamilyMart is a joint venture of the Ayala’s, they may just block the management from opening other locations other than Ayala Malls, like Trinoma in Quezon City or Metropoint Mall in Pasay City.

But then again, they are set to have 40 stores at the end of the year, and about a thousand within 10 years… so, probably I may just be thinking a bit too much.

 

At least they have kept the infamous doorbell! 😀