¥100, i.e. ~US$ 1.00. In the popular shops of this name in Japan, all the items sold are priced at precisely this amount, or sometimes one of its multiples (though seldom over 500). This is, however, without VAT, and the final price amounts to 108 Yens (~US$ 1.10) including VAT.
The single-price shop concept does not belong exclusively to Japan. It actually appeared in North America at the end of the 19th century. Here are some of the most famous Japanese 100-Yen shop chain stores:
- Daiso, which introduced the concept into Japan in the early 90’s.
- Other very famous franchized stores such as Can Do, Seria, Daikoku or Flets.
- Even the Lawson konbini chain store opened its “Store 100” in 2011 after buying out “Shop99”.
There are several thousand such shops all over Japan, including 2,000 Daiso stores. They are often located in stations, large shopping malls or avenues, although less frequently in tourist areas.
Items Sold in Japanese 100¥-shops
These shops often turn out to be a jumble of miscellaneous articles always impeccably arranged along narrow aisles and offer an amazingly large range of objects. They are particularly well-supplied with cooking utensils, stationery and sundry other tools. They also sell linen, clothes and accessories as well as many unusual gadgets.
They also very conveniently sell the famous plastic transparent umbrellas which are typically moved to the shop window as soon as there is a hint of rain. They are hardly less durable than other umbrellas sold for 3 to 5 times the amount and are therefore generally considered an excellent bargain.
These stores are sometimes spread over several floors and offer an amazing wealth of items! They may actually be compared to konbini, except as concerns fresh produce. Be careful, however, as some of the items sold in 100 Yen shops can be found at a lower price in supermarkets; this applies in particular to food and drink.
To top it all, product quality is, on the whole, rather good despite some exceptions, particularly concerning the life span of certain articles. No wonder when production costs have to be kept to a minimum in order to offer low retail prices.
Patrons of these discount stores
100 Yen shops may prove much more attractive than they seemed in the first place.
They are perfect for example for expatriates who have just arrived in Japan and need to set up house on a tight budget.
Visitors will also find them very handy for buying cheap cardboard boxes, bubble wrap and tape for the parcels they will need to send home.
Last, but not least, they are extremely well supplied with all sorts of cheap souvenirs and unusual gifts, especially tiny kawaii items!