There are plenty of things harder than starting a business. Going to war. Doing surgery on yourself. Watching Transformers. But few trials are as a sustained as starting a business, especially in a town with so many negative nancies. You give up a full-time income. You work 12+ hour days. Your friends wait patiently, for you to fail.
But you do it. And sometimes, you're the one who succeeds.
"Lots of people advised us that anime is not popular in Sri Lanka," said Tami Fukii, co-founder of Yamato One. "But we thought there must be lots of anime/manga fans here and just need an opportunity."
Tami and fellow founder Clinton de Kretser, had had the idea of starting a dedicated anime and manga business in Sri Lanka, for years. It would be something new and fun for Sri Lanka, especially for teenagers and adults. "You see toddler's shops full of toys, but it's hard to get gifts for teenagers, isn't it?"
While some say anime is childish, Clinton and Tami hold it to be entertainment for all ages. Topics range from romance and adventure, all the way to sports (Slam Dunk, Initial D), to biographies (Osamu Tezuka), even food (Yakitate).
The product was there; but was the market?
After a trial event, they decided to take the plunge, and and bought a stall at Lanka Comic Con 2016. "We we're hoping, hoping, and hoping that people would come along who knew anime and manga," said Tami. "We underestimated Sri Lankan anime fans. Their knowledge and passion for anime/manga was amazing."
Yamato One is now the most popular anime and manga seller in the country. They actively engage their enthusiastic customer base on their Facebook page. They have an online store that delivers Island-wide. Next, they are opening physical store in Rajagiriya. "It's in a shopping complex under construction at the Rajagiriya junction. If the complex is completed soon, the store will be open by the end of the year."
Tami ami and Clinton have a larger vision than just buying and selling, and want to support the anime/manga community. "We'd like to do a project with local anime and manga artists and fans."
Yamato One will be at Lanka Comic Con, 2017.