Japanese entrepreneur Kaoru Kubota built a chain of sporting-goods stores to meet a growing interest among athletes in Japan for American football and lacrosse. As the number of school teams multiplied, many bought uniforms and gear that Kubota imports from the U.S.
Now, after four decades as a retailer in Japan, Kubota is expanding his company — QB Club Inc. — to a new market: the United States. QB Club opened its first Lax Kong lacrosse store in Plano, Texas, near Dallas. And U.S. consumers are enjoying this offshoot of what Lacrosse Magazine calls the “most sophisticated” lacrosse retailer in the world.
Lax Kong is not alone. SelectUSA, a Commerce Department initiative, encourages enterprises, small and large, to invest in the U.S., as many already have. No other country attracts more foreign direct investors.
The 2017 Select USA Summit in Washington June 18-20 will allow business executives from around the world an unusual opportunity to network with federal and state economic development leaders and learn about incentives to invest in the U.S. Investors and entrepreneurs can learn more about the summit on the Select USA website.
There are many reasons the U.S. ranks as a destination for foreign businesses, from its stable regulatory regime to its skilled labor force and new sources of energy.
QB Club hopes to benefit from the diverse consumer markets here. It will spend almost $2 million to open additional Lax Kong stores. While lacrosse has long been popular in the Northeast and Midwest, the market in Texas and surrounding Southern states is ripe for growth. New stores will target Americans in search of not only the best lacrosse equipment, but also good advice.
Executives say the stores will offer customers a higher level of service than typically found in U.S. sporting-goods stores. Two of 8 employees from the Plano store were sent to Osaka for a week to see Japanese customer service in action, said store manager Will Tobias-Gapp, a fluent Japanese speaker.
U.S. consumers demand a variety of products and are open to different sales methods. Lax Kong stores are likely to attract a loyal customer base, even as some Americans shop at stores that sell used sporting goods or at large outlets that compete on price with more basic inventories.
A version of this story was originally published June 30, 2016.