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A yen for cheapness

Best-sellers from Tokyo to Texas

IT HAS become a staple story in the local American press: a Daiso store opening near you. Last month it was the turn of Plano, Texas, to get a branch of the Japanese chain of shops where everything costs ¥100. (In America it actually charges $1.50 per item, giving it a premium over the current exchange rate of 97 cents per ¥100.) The Plano store is the second of 44 shops planned for the state. To date California has 49 branches.

America is far from alone. As well as its 3,000-odd stores in Japan, Daiso has 1,500-plus outlets abroad. Its bargain range of products, from value-for-money bags to Japanese “kawaii” or “cute” figures, are sold around the world, from countries in Latin America to the Gulf states and throughout the rest of Asia. (As yet there are no ¥100 stores in Europe.)

This roll-out is orchestrated from a headquarters in the eastern suburbs of Hiroshima. The building looks bland from the outside. But its interior is decked out in Daiso’s trademark pink. One floor is abuzz with buyers examining packs of wet wipes and plastic toys;…Continue reading

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