Throngs of enthusiastic shoppers descended on the new Daiso location in Downey last month.

By TOMOKO NAGAI, Rafu Staff Writer

DOWNEY — Daiso, a Japanese 100-yen shop aiming to open 1,000 stores in the U.S., opened its 40th store in Southern California on Dec. 3 in Downey, a south gateway city in Los Angeles County.

The store is located at 8970 Apollo Way, off Bellflower Boulevard.

With a population of just over 110,000, Downey is mostly Hispanic and white: Asians account for 6.7% of the population, according to the 2020 census. However, the lines that snaked around the building waiting for the store’s 10 a.m. opening proved that Japan-born Daiso charms anyone, not limited to Japanese or Asians.

Alex, from neighboring Bell Gardens, was the first in the queue. She and her mother arrived at 7:30 in the morning and lined up at the door. A fan of Daiso, she welcomed the opening of the store.

Store manager Jeff Bellows cut the ceremonial ribbon. Also participating in the ceremony was Mark Senstad, Promenade at Downey general manager.

“I used to go to Daiso in Monterey Park, but when I heard about the opening on Facebook, I flew over,” she said.

Everyone was also looking forward to the goodie bags distributed at the opening.

As the doors opened, customers entered the store one after another, filling their shopping baskets with their favorite products, including seasonal Holiday items. Daiso merchandise is famous for fixed, low prices and high quality.

Andrea and Abby, who live in Downey, said, “Daiso is fun because there are a lot of small and kawaii things” and “I used to go to the Cerritos store, but I’m happy to have one in Downey.”

Jeff Bellows, the manager, said with a smile, “I’m glad that the locals are so welcoming.”

The people who came for Christmas shopping included a couple holding a mountain of snacks, a woman looking for pet supplies, and of course children with eyes glittering.

Above and below: The first customers stream into the store.

Daiso Sangyo in Hiroshima City, Hiroshima Prefecture, has 4,042 stores in Japan and 2,296 stores overseas, mainly in Asia, as of the end of February 2022, according to the company’s website. Its president is Seiji Yano. The first overseas store was in Taiwan in 2001, and Daiso landed in the U.S. in 2005. 

The grand opening of the Downey Daiso marks the Japanese retailer’s 40th store in Southern California, the 58th store in California, and the 88th store in the U.S.

Everything is $1.75, with a few exceptions. There may be other variety shops that sell items at a single price, but Suzie Won-Speizer, who is in charge of marketing at Daiso, emphasizes to the difference. “Even though the price point is the same, there are clever and unique items. Daiso has something that everyone will be happy with.”

The company plans to open additional stores, including Henderson, Nevada and the very first Arizona Daiso. The goal is to open 20 to 25 stores in 2023. Daiso announced in November that they are aiming for 1,000 stores in the U.S. With the wind of record-breaking inflation and consumer frugality, it seems to be smooth sailing for Daiso.


The new staff is ready for action.

Photos by TOMOKO NAGAI/Rafu Shimpo

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