UPDATE: Top Charoen Invasion
Has anyone NOT seen this logo:
- Just south of the Yamaha/Honda dealer north of the Phetkasem/Palau Rd traffic light.
- Just north of the clock tower. Store extends from Phetkasem through to Naepkhaehart Rd.
- Next door to Time Optic, just north of the Hua Hin Shopping Mall.
- Next door to Burger King.
- The north east corner of Dechanuchit Rd (Soi 72) and Sra Song Road across from the 7/11
- The north west corner of Dechanuchit Rd (Soi 57) and Naepkhaehart Rd.
- Villa Market Complex
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I can't figure this out. These are not franchises; they are all owned by the company. These are not inexpensive shops to set up and operate. All of these shops are on prime real estate. When Starbucks opened by the clock tower a few years ago, there were many rumors as to how much they had to pay for the lease on that location just a couple of doors down from a (now) Top Charoen Optical. When Billy's lease at the British steak house next door to Burger King was up, we heard about the exorbitant fees the owners of the property were demanding to allow him to stay. That didn't stop Top Charoen.
I get stuck at traffic lights in front of these places very often. I don't mind admiring the long-legged ladies that lounge out front/staff the shops but I seldom see any customers. All that glass and chrome and those long legs cost money. I realize that the mark up on eye glasses is quite high but even then, we're talking about a lot of Hi-So frames just to pay the overhead. As I've sat waiting for the lights to change, I've wondered if these shops aren't really just a front for something more profitable than eye glasses. Perhaps a soapy place or something like that. Don't know.
I looked into store placement and learned that Wal-Mart's strategy in a urban area is to place stores within a 10 mile radius of each other in order to saturate the market and undercut their competition. I can understand that. 10 miles is 16 km or 804 sq km for each store. The Wal-Mart stores are making it difficult for their competitors to survive without damaging the sales of their own stores. But we're talking about 6 Top Charoen stores in a 0.385 square kilometer area! From the central location by the clock tower, there are 5 more locations within a 350 meter radius. This can't work.
This ad look familiar? For those who can't read Thai, it's NOT Top Charoen. It's Beautiful Optical.
There's been a Beautiful Optical shop across the street from Chatchai Market since probably just after they completed the railway line. I always figured it was owned by the Gee Un Tung folks or some other old time Hua Hin family and I was concerned that they, or Time Optic or some of the other optical shops that have been around Hua Hin a while would suffer from the Top Charoen advance.
FBF was wrong again. I noticed the other day that the Beautiful Optical shop across the street from the market has been remodeled and that the row of leather shops and tailors that used to be across the street from Burger King AND across the street from Top Charoen have been taken over by a huge Beautiful Optical. Not only are they not suffering from the Top Charoen invasion, they're fighting back.
Or so it would seem. Turns out, at least what the Thai web sites say, is that they are owned by the same company. I can't be certain but I tend to believe it. Promotions and ads are very similar. Ads are award winning and very quirky. Web sites are IDENTICAL.
I have no idea how many Beautiful Optical shops there are in Hua Hin. My brain is numb trying to keep up with the Top Charoen shops but it just gets curiouser and curiouser.
Years ago we joked about how many tailor shops there were in Hua Hin. The tailor shops gave way to jewelry stores on every corner, and then there were real estate agents. I don't think anyone has any idea how many 7/11's there are here but my bet is that soon there will be a Top Chareon kiosk in each 7/11. Would you like a pair of designer frames with that Spicy Dog?