Those 7-11 corner convenience stores are a staple in North American cities and in Japan. Mimi Kirk in City Lab notes that the Japanese convenience stores provide the same items as North American ones-with one exception-
“convenience stores in Japan offer services that make them hubs of their communities. Customers can pay a utility bill, buy concert tickets, or make copies at a 7-Eleven or a similar retailer like Lawson or FamilyMart. In the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, convenience stores even set up emergency support centers and sent employees to aid survivors, among other good deeds.”
As Japan’s seniors population ages, the stores have become street corner mini community centres with healthier food, home food delivery and “seating areas so that older customers can gather to socialize and practice their karaoke skills.”
Elder friendly services are increasing with 100 new locations in apartment complexes offering these services as well as room cleaning, clothes mending and dealing with maintenance problems in apartments.
Ryota Takemoto, a researcher with an institute focusing on Japan’s real estate sector states “We must prevent [the elderly] from losing their access to a convenience store so that we can use convenience store networks…as an economic and social infrastructure where aging is advancing fast.”
It’s an interesting adaptive innovation that may find credence here as we encourage more seniors to age in place in their own communities.