Trip Report: How Do We Not Have Daiso Here?

I have another post to finish up with the usual longtime business closures 🙁 and Shake Shack, which I will visit eventually but can’t seem to get excited about now. So I moved a Trip Report ahead, because I really like writing these. Sorry not sorry,

Anyway, I made it out to southern California again, the second time this year. I had some free time before my flight home, so I pulled off in Huntington Beach. I topped up my rental car’s tank at this froo-froo Costco:

Photo of Costco Wholesale - Huntington Beach, CA, United States
Italianate architectural cues help this Costco match the adjacent Bella Terra shopping district. Photo taken by Dughan D from Yelp

As beautiful as it was, it apparently suffers from the same problems all Costco gas stations have, though this is the first I’ve seen with signage directly addressing them:

Sign affixed to pump in Costco logo font reading “PLEASE HAVE YOUR CARDS READY BEFORE YOU PULL UP.” (C)A2RS

I went on a beer quest to BevMo (and called it off as I realized I couldn’t carry what I was looking for onto the plane home). It was cool but honestly not that much better than, say, A&L Wine Castle or Tippins or even a few of our local supermarkets. It’s still kind of fun and novel to see a lot of Bell’s and Founders way out of state though.

Then I ducked into a completely unexceptional Target to kill some time, before visiting something I’d only read about before: Daiso.

Exterior of Daiso Japan, Westminster, CA. (C)A2RS

Daiso is a quintessential 100-yen store from Japan. If that sounds like a dollar store, you’re about right. Nearly everything at the Daiso store I visited was a buck fifty plus tax, though I spied some larger stuffed animals than ran five bucks. I only had about 10-15 minutes to skulk around taking touristy photos:

Typical dollar store fare with a Japanese flair (C)A2RS

I really should have bought some of those dollar fifty batteries at the bottom of the above shot — my car’s keyless entry is getting inconsistently responsive — but I bet you can’t take those on planes either. Does your dollar store sell HI-CHEW? Five Below might, I’m not sure. If they do, they probably charge like three bucks.

“big fan” gag goes here (C)A2RS

Again, a lot of the stuff up front is very dollar store stuff but much of it has a distinct cuteness that sets it apart from Dollar Tree. The store was also super tidy in a way I don’t encounter when I visit Dollar Tree around here. That may be because Daiso had just opened for the day.

Beyond the fan aisle toward the back of the store (C)A2RS

Adorable tablewares:

The green froggies and yellow bears on the far right are beginner chopsticks for kids. (C)A2RS

And kitchen utensils too. Lunch kits, cupcake cups, juicers, spatulas, including one shaped like Mickey Mouse’s gloved hand. Does this place do bootleg stuff? NO!

Kitchen aisle at Daiso. See Mickey Mouse hand spatula at center right. (C)A2RS

Daiso’s Mickey and Minnie stuff is all officially licensed and found throughout the store. Some of it even has pleasingly imperfect English words on it. When is Disney gonna do a collab with Big Lots? Don’t count on it.

Mickey-hand tea cups sell for the premium cost of $2.00 each (C)A2RS

Here’s a shot of the tech aisle. Cable management is crucial, as seen by the many cable ties and cord stays. Also cases to keep many SD photo and DS game cards in.

You can also find many cases and peripherals for iPhones, but good luck finding a cable to charge them here. (C)A2RS

They have household cleaning, decor, and even the other usual dollar store consumables like tiny jugs of bleach and baking soda. I didn’t have much room to schlep all the kawaii home so I chose one practical and adorable item:

This pack of kitty and bear bag clips include sliding counters to mark the freshness date of their time-fragile payloads. 6/$1.50. (C)A2RS

I believe that so far, Daiso has chosen areas of peak Japanese population to open North America stores. They started in Vancouver Canada in the early 2000s. There are like 50 in California and like a dozen in Texas for some reason. The closest location to Detroit is probably the New Jersey location opening next month, at least the third new US location in 2019. Hopefully they will look inland soon. I think that, between students attending school in the U-M/MSU/Wayne triangle and the many engineers who work in our tech and mobility industry, the market is there.

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