Apr 19, 2007

There is indeed more to Japanese retailing than just Hello Kitty characters, and Daiso is proof of that.

In Japan, the chain is often referred to as the 100-yen shop, which is the equivalent of our dollar stores. Except in our experiences, Daiso is much better than any Dollar Tree or 99-Cent Store that we've ever stepped foot inside. In 2005, Seattle was the first U.S. city to get a Daiso, with the Daly City outpost opening in December.

The store, which occupies the former Good Guys in the Serramonte Shopping Center, offers about 15,000 square feet of Japanese goodies – most of which are priced at $1.50. During our recent visit, the most expensive item we came across was a whopping $3.

For those of you who are wondering, "What can you find here?" the better question might be, "What CAN'T you find here?!" With over 30,000 products, there are plenty of things for the home – including organizational items, kitchen utensils (some of which you never even knew existed), tableware and garden supplies.

And sometimes, you may not even be sure what you're buying, but it just seems too cool to pass up. A friend of ours recently picked up "a weird napkin thing that I think was supposed to protect you from mosquitoes," he said. "The front says, 'To create area which mosquitoes will not wish to enter,' and then on the back under directions, it says, 'Insert translation here.'"

Thankfully, most of the Daiso products are easier to figure out. Like the cute pair of elephant salt and pepper shakers. Or the small easel that's perfect for displaying your latest Etsy print purchase.


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