The Daily Californian Online

Japanese Discount Store Opens on Telegraph Avenue

By Weiru Fang
Daily Cal Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Category: News > City > Business

Michael Restrepo/Senior Staff
Daiso Japan opened Sunday on Telegraph Avenue. The shop sells discount goods, most of which are priced at $1.50.

Selling everything from ceramics to slippers for only $1.50, Daiso Japan, which opened on Telegraph Avenue Sunday, is a broke college student's dream.

The store, which is known internationally, hopes to appeal to students and Berkeley residents as well as shoppers from surrounding cities with its eclectic mix of general merchandise. All of the store's items are priced at $1.50, unless otherwise marked - a large appeal to college students who live on a tight budget - according to store manager Miho Koto.

The store is owned by Japan-based Daiso Sangyo Inc. and is supplied by a warehouse in Hayward. The international company has more than 2,500 stores in Japan and about 550 around the world - including in the United States. The company decided to open a Berkeley store to cater to customers who previously had to travel as far Union City or Newark, Koto said.

Berkeley City Councilmember Kriss Worthington, whose district includes the store, said Daiso Japan has the potential to be a destination for people outside the city.

"It's a store that has a reputation that would bring someone here," said Al Geyer, chair of the Telegraph Merchants Association. "It should help bring in additional traffic."

John Lineweaver, president of the the Telegraph Business Improvement District Board of Directors and owner of the neighboring property - which formerly housed Blake's on Telegraph - said Daiso Japan's lot has been vacant for a couple of years.

"Telegraph will benefit ... by having a vacancy be filled by an upscale, legitimate store," Lineweaver said.

While the store is similar to dollar stores because of its low prices, Koto said Daiso Japan sells higher-quality items and is more aligned with convenience stores because it sells everyday items like shampoo and soap. According to Koto, the company maintains its low prices because it operates more than 3,000 stores all over the world.

Worthington said Daiso Japan, which falls under the general retail store category, occupies a uniquely specialized market niche by selling popular Asian products - such as rice candy, back scratchers and Japanese puzzle food erasers - in addition to general merchandise.

UC Berkeley junior Melissa Wang, who said she was familiar with Daiso Japan, said students will benefit from the Telegraph store's cheap and good-quality items that are relevant to their lifestyles.

"We are well-known among the Asian community already," Koto said, adding that the store hopes to appeal to a wide range of students and community members. "We're very positive about catering to other ethnicities."

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