5 things to know about Don Quijote, Japan's popular discount chain store

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Don Quijote, a popular Japanese discount chain store, is opening its first South-east Asian outpost in Singapore’s Orchard area.

Known for selling a wide variety of goods at bargain prices – from pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, groceries, to electronics and unique lifestyle items, news of its opening has raised our hopes for a new eclectic shopping experience.

According to a statement from the Don Quijote Group, the store here will offer “cool” Japanese products. The exact opening date will be announced later.

There’s no doubt fans of Japanese-themed products are certainly thrilled, and here are three things you should know about the store.

1.  Also known as ‘Donki’

‘Don Quijote’ (pronounced ‘dawn kee-ho-tay’) too much of a mouthful? It’s also known simply as ‘Donki’ in Japan.

The chain first opened in 1989 in Japan, and is known for being a one-stop convenience discount store that keeps to late hours, with some stores even operating 24/7. 

2. Hawaii its sole outpost, thus far

The chain currently has 350 stores in total, with sales revenue of up to 800 billion yen ($10 billion) in Japan. Of the hundreds of stores, only three lie outside of Japan, in Hawaii.

3. Find pop culture merchandise including toys, costumes

Yes, Don Quijote resembles Daiso and Isetan, but there are far more interesting items you can find here, and they can be found hanging from its ceilings down to the floor racks.

The store stocks costumes which harks to Japan’s cosplay culture, ranging from funny to the downright bizarre.

Based on Instagram posts, Gudetama merchandise are also sold in the stores, and we can only expect even more items from our favourite Sanrio characters.

4.  It has a store mascot and theme song

The chain has its own mascot – a blue penguin which dons a red hat. It can be found at the storefront and in random corners of the store.

One store in Japan even has a claw machine of their mascot toy!

A quick look at their website also showcases differently-designed mascots for different store locations.

Photo: Screengrab from “Donki”‘s website

We wonder if there would be a new ‘Donki’ mascot designed specially for the Singapore store as well?

Don Quijote is also known for its distinctive theme song, titled “Miracle Shopping”, which was sung by a store employee and released in 1999.

With its unique branding put in place, there’s no wonder the store held its place in the hearts of the Japanese!

5. Online shopping and delivery service

For those who can’t wait for the brick-and-mortar store to open, Don Quijote also offers an online shopping service with international shipping on their website, where you can browse a selection of items that are stocked in their stores.

Photo: Screengrab from their online shopping site

While you’re waiting, why not give online shopping a try and familiarise yourself with the Japanese products they have to offer.

But is it the same here?

Being the first of their kind in Southeast Asia, we aren’t so sure if Don Quijote will keep to its Japanese traditions.

Would the store operate beyond stipulated opening hours of its retail counterparts in Orchard? Would their goods be sold at discounted prices like in Japan?

Some netizens were hesitant to believe so.

Moreover, Singapore already has a restaurant in Dempsey Road with the same name, raising doubts as to whether the Japanese convenience store would be named differently.

Even so, we are certainly excited for its arrival and preparing ourselves to lay hands on the Japanese goodies.

ongymm@sph.com.sg

Tuesday, June 6, 2017 – 14:27

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