Line Friends lining up in Times Square
Line Friends, the character merchandising unit of mobile messenger Line, will open its first US store in New York City’s Times Square tomorrow.
In an announcement via Twitter, Line Friends say this is a “pre-opening” of the store ahead of its official grand opening next month. This is so it can test and optimise the store before the official opening, says a company spokesperson.
Visitors will be able to browse the store and make purchases during the pre-opening period.
Spanning 430 sqm, the Broadway store is in the same building that is home to the Lion King musical.
It will be the first-ever large-scale Asian character-brand store to open in the US, and also commemorates the one-year anniversary of Line’s public listing on the New York Stock Exchange.
As well as Line Friends’ flagship character-based products, the store will offer items tailored to the US market, the firm says.
Founded two years ago, Line Friends is a wholly owned subsidiary of Naver-owned Line Corp, which runs the Line mobile messenger. It creates such products as dolls and stationery based on the signature characters featured as virtual stickers on Line messenger such as Brown, Choco and Cony.
Line Friends has 83 stores in 11 countries, including its home country Korea, and China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. The company has collaborated with hundreds of major consumer companies such as global stationery brands Lamy and Moleskin, furniture maker Mr Maria and cosmetic brands L’Occitane en Provence and Missha.
Line Friends CEO Kim Sung-hoon says a Line Friends pop-up store opened in Times Square in 2014 with LED billboard advertisements running in the city in late 2015. “Starting with New York, we will speed up our efforts to ramp up our presence in various markets around the globe.”