This article is interesting and raises some good points.
I do feel like one very important point warrants further discussion, and that's the idea that Japanese brands rely on their Western stockists to promote the 'culture' and values of denim. This was certainly a very important aspect of the initial rise of Japanese denim out West in the early 2000s, though I think with the ever increasing importance of the internet and social media in our lives (and the frequency in which affluent young people travel around the world) the local brick & mortar stores are in some ways less relevant even just a decade on.
My own views are a bit skewed of course, as I'd "learned" most of this hobby via the Internet. Anybody who might be interested in Japanese denim only need to spend a couple of days reading some of this forum, binge on a couple of blogs, and then contact the Japanese brands and stores directly via Instagram - for the dedicated and enthusiastic, basic "denim education" can be had digitally without necessarily accessing brick & mortar shops (although that would be helpful.)
For the regulars on this forum I highly doubt that local shops are all that important to us personally in terms of actually acquiring pieces that we want, although I'm all for supporting them and helping to grow the hobby locally.
Stores such as Denimio and Okayama can (and do) spread the culture of Japanese denim far more widely and effectively compared with Western stores who don't have dedicated PR/media staff. These guys can help the hobby achieve awareness digitally at a scale that physical traffic to a brick & mortar store can never match.
For B&M stores to be successful, they must offer something more than just a space to try out jeans or having shop keepers who know a denim fact or two.