You may be doing these things, too! Stories of "poor suitcases" our suitcase guru is dying to tell
Did you know that we have a "suitcase guru" at Tokyu Hands? Led by this guru, we have visited Koshigaya headquarters and distribution center of a suitcase brand, "siffler". We are reporting from here today.
The reason why approximately 90% of damages get fixed is because there are craftsmen who truly love suitcases
--Mr. Suitcase Guru, and our guide, Ms. Shiraishi from siffler, we would like to start from where we left off.
Sato: It's great to be here! This is a wonderland!
Shiraishi: Thank you for visiting us! Calling it a wonderland may be a bit too much, but I'm really glad you like it here!
Mr. Hiroki Sato, buyer and a self-proclaimed "suitcase guru", and Ms. Mina Shiraishi, assistant chief of the First Sales Department at siffler
--To fill in those who have not read our previous article, we are now at siffler's warehouse. We are by no means at an amusement park.
Sato: But it sure feels like an amusement park for me. Actually, it's a lot more fun than that!!
--... It's certainly not an amusement park, but it's interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes.
Shiraishi: Thank you! There is a repair shop within the warehouse where damaged suitcases are fixed. Let me take you there.
Sato: This is exciting!!
--(He sure is overexcited...).
Shiraishi: Here it is!
Shiraishi: This is Chief Koichi Yamamoto. He is in charge of repairs at Management Division.
Yamamoto: Mr. Guru, it's a pleasure working with you.
Sato: It's a pleasure working with you, too!
--He seems to know Mr. Sato... Mr. Sato, this isn't your first time to see Mr. Yamamoto?
Sato: No, we have asked Mr. Yamamoto to hold workshops several times to teach our staff how to fix suitcases.
Sato: Since he's here, let's ask the repair expert Mr. Yamamoto about likely causes of suitcase damages.
Yamamoto: Then I would like to take some time to talk about that. Although it's embarrassing to give a lecture in front of Mr. "Guru" (laughs).
Sato: What are you laughing at (laughs)?
Yamamoto: The telescopic handle is one of the parts that frequently breaks. For example, it often breaks when suitcase gets knocked over while the handle is still extended. Usually, multiple shorter bars are connected into a handle, and the connecting parts are comparatively vulnerable to impact.
--Does the durability differ depending on the bar type?
Yamamoto: Yes, there also exist bars which are thick and sturdy.
--Why aren't they installed on all suitcases?
Yamamoto: Those bars are sturdy but also heavy.
Sato: Light suitcases are easier to handle and popular among customers, so the weight is reduced from various parts, including the handle.
Yamamoto: Mr. Sato is right. It's very difficult to decide how light and how sturdy suitcases need to be. It's not like light suitcases are especially vulnerable to impact, but please be extra careful not to knock them down.
Chairman: Excuse me.
Sato: Chairman Oshima! You always appear out of nowhere.
--Chairman Oshima... What are you...?
Chairman: See? The surface of the suitcase doesn't break that easily.
Shiraishi: Thank you for the demonstration.
--Were we talking about this!?
Sato: Somehow I knew you would mention that, but you sure took us by surprise (laughs).
Yamamoto: Materials such as polycarbonate and ABS resin, which are used for airplane windows, are adopted into the body of the suitcase so that it won't break even if the chairman tries to smash it earnestly. They're very hard to break. However, the parts where wheels are installed need to be handled more carefully. We have our own standards to check whether these parts are sturdy enough, but if they receive a strong impact when packed fully, they may break.
Sato: Zipper also tends to break when the suitcase is packed too much.
Yamamoto: Yes. When you take things out of your suitcase, I'd like to suggest that you unzip it all the way. If you try to take out by unzipping partially, the zipper often breaks.
--I suppose sometimes we cannot be bothered to unzip the whole thing when we take out things.
Sato: If it's not packed full, the zipper doesn't break as easily, even if partially unzipped. But when it's full, the material around the zipper gets torn from the weight, if unzipped only partially.
Yamamoto: 90% of the damaged suitcases can be fixed here, but it's difficult to mend those with torn material around the zipper. So, I know it's cumbersome, but remember to unzip all the way when you open your suitcase. There are many causes for suitcases getting damaged, such as breaking the lock after forgetting the lock combination and dragging suitcases with locked wheel stoppers, but handles and zippers are probably the main ones.
--I need to be careful... As a side note, when do you find your job as a repairman rewarding, Mr. Yamamoto?
Yamamoto: I feel proud of myself when I fix crooked body frames by hammering a special tool because it takes experiences to master such a technique.
Sato: I knew you would say that!!
Yamamoto: You know what I mean!!
--Two fanatics relating to one another...
Sato: Thanks to craftsmen like Mr. Yamamoto who love suitcases, most of the damages get fixed here. What a relief for customers.
Yamamoto: It's an honor to hear you say such a thing, Mr. "Guru" (laughs).
Sato: Then, why do you keep laughing!
The guru tells stories about "poor suitcases" rather enthusiastically
--Mr. Yamamoto's story was very informative.
Sato: His story made me want to talk about suitcase damages myself. We don't want to get in the way of Mr. Yamamoto's important job as a repairman, so we should let him go now. I will take over from here.
Shiraishi: Just as expected of a guru! Thank you for your consideration. Why don't we leave the warehouse for now.
Sato: That was fun...! From here, I am taking over the passion for suitcases that I received from Mr. Yamamoto!
--It looks like there was a handover of passion without us even knowing.
Shiraishi: I didn't notice it, either.
Sato: I'd like to talk about poor suitcases.
Sato: I think Ms. Shiraishi knows what I mean. When I look around and I see so many people who aren't using suitcases properly.
Shiraishi: That's right. There are really many of them.
Sato: If the suitcase is not used properly, it become breakable, obviously. When I witness a wrongly used suitcase, it makes me think, "poor suitcase", and that's why I turn my eyes away automatically.
--... I see. Could you give us some examples of wrong usages?
Sato: For starters, I think most of the people have done what we are about to show you. Ms. Shiraishi, I know this is painful, but please demonstrate...
--Is this wrong?!
Sato: Yes it is! Didn't you know that!?
Ms. Shiraishi: But I don't blame you. This is how people usually hold suitcases in TV dramas.
Sato: I know. It may be confusing because this is the correct way to hold a suitcase with 2 wheels, but not a suitcase with 4 wheels. It looks cool when held this way, so I understand why it's used like this on TV programs. However, this "backhand grab style" is something you should refrain from repeating on a 4-wheel suitcase whenever possible. Unless there is a temporary need to carry your suitcases on a road with bad condition, where it's difficult to carry using all 4 wheels...
--I had no idea. I'll be careful from now on... By the way, is the term "backhand grab style" commonly used in the suitcase market?
Sato: You do know it, don't you, Ms. Shiraishi?
Shiraishi: Actually... no.
Sato: Well, no wonder. I made up this term just recently.
Shiraishi: Please don't scare me like that!
Sato: Oh, I'm sorry.
--So, could you show us the proper way to hold it?
Sato: This is the proper way.
Shiraishi: You should keep all 4 wheels on the ground. If you hold a 4-wheel suitcase like a 2-wheel suitcase, the tires wear unevenly, causing the suitcase to lose its balance and putting burden on various parts.
Sato: That's right. Moreover, it can be carried steadily by pushing the rear corner of the handle. Now, this is called "walking dog style".
--I see. And this term is commonly used in...
Shiraishi: I think you know.
Sato: She's quick (laughs).
More stories on "poor suitcases"
Sato: There are many more suitcases that need rescuing. The misuse of suitcases I'd like to talk about next is a mistake often seen among foreigners visiting Japan. Like this.
--Oh, I've seen people do that at stations.
Shiraishi: This is very dangerous.
Sato: Yes, It is. I call it "big bang shopping style". As the name suggests (?), people who go on a shopping spree and then try to cram everything into 2 suitcases. However, suitcases are not supposed to be stacked up. They can lose their balance easily. What's more, since suitcases are packed fully and heavily, they may fall due to the centrifugal force when making a turn or getting on or off trains.
--That could cause big accidents...
Shiraishi: It's especially dangerous in urban areas because there are many people. Some suitcases are made to be hooked on suitcase handles, so if you'd like to stack them, I suggest using these types.
Sato: Let's move to a mistake many often make when climbing stairs. Ms. Shiraishi, please demonstrate.
--We're not supposed to do that, either!?
Sato: No! Many tend to just grab the handle because it's burdensome to push back the handle, but you should not do this as this may bend the handle.
--I didn't know that...
Sato: I can almost hear suitcases scream when I see people do this... It's really painful to see this... So I call it "Ouch style".
--I see a sudden change in how you name things...
Sato: Please don't fuss over details. Now, this is the proper way to carry it.
Sato: Store the handle properly and hold the grab when carrying. This way, the beloved suitcase that you had chosen to buy won't have to suffer from the pain. And the proper way to hold it is called... um...
--If you can't think of one, don't bother! You're making things more complicated!
Sato: Oh, am I (laughs)? How about a "proper style", then?
Shiraishi: He has given up (laughs).
The suitcase guru is rigorous when it comes to work because of his love for suitcases
--Would that be all for "poor suitcases"?
Sato: Let's say this is enough for today. I hope as many suitcases as possible get saved...!
Shiraishi: Thank you.
--By the way, I heard you two often work together.
Shiraishi: Yes, he has helped us a lot!
--What was your first impression of Mr. Sato?
Shiraishi: I had heard about his reputation as a suitcase guru, and I had somehow imagined him to be a stoic worker and someone a bit scary.
Sato: Really (laughs)?!
Shiraishi: Yes, but when I met him in person, I found out that he wasn't like that at all (laughs). He's been a great help because he tells us explicitly what needs to be improved when we make suggestions. Furthermore, his opinions are very realistic and to the point, because he makes comments after actually using our suitcases. I think subtle remarks like his can only be made by someone who loves suitcases.
Sato: It's great fun working with people at siffler starting with Ms. Shiraishi because they are full of creative ideas that provide inspiration. For instance, the suitcase we used when I was lecturing about "poor suitcases" features the GripMaster, equipped with a grab on the top and the bottom, which is revolutionary!
siffler Escape featuring the GripMaster Model B5225T-58 52L 27,000 yen + tax
--Could you please explain in more detail?
Sato: You have to use this suitcase for a while to really appreciate its quality. For example, with 2 grabs, it's easier to take it out of the trunk of your car. Or to pick it up from the luggage rack on the Shinkansen or baggage carousel at the airport.
Shiraishi: I didn't realize this until Mr. Sato told us, but lifting with 2 grabs requires less strength, so it's helpful especially for women. So we have received advice from Mr. Sato and are now trying to make suitcases for women.
--Is that so!
Sato: Thank you for taking my humble opinions into consideration.
Shiraishi: You're the guru, of course we take in your advice in a great measure.
--What's going on? You two are giving me the creeps...
Sato: Well, I was thinking, we can make great suitcases together with siffler!
Shiraishi: I was thinking the same thing!
--How enthusiastic. It's great to know that.
Sato: Hey, look at that beautiful sunset!
Shiraishi: Wow! Let's go outside!
--Wait a minute!
Sato: Let's swear on that sunset. That we will create a bright future for suitcases and people who use them!
Shiraishi: Yes! We look forward to continue working with you, Mr. Guru!
--(What's all this...)
That's all for now. Please take a look at suitcases filled with siffler's passion, and take good care of them after purchase. The next article will be the last! Guess what happened when suitcase fanatics gathered at a conference room of a popular suitcase brand...! Don't miss it!
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