July 15 was a banner day for Manhattan-based Daiso fans. The celebrated Japanese retailer known for its inexpensive, yet high-quality products opened its first Manhattan store.
The new location at 220 E. 57th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) marks the eighty-third Daiso storefront in the contiguous United States. There are now more than 3,300 stores in Japan and more than 5,500 worldwide. The Manhattan opening is particularly pleasing to city dwellers who until now have had to trek to Brooklyn or Queens to indulge in purchasing loads of stationery, craft supplies, and home goods at significantly low prices. Manhattanites showed their appreciation by waiting in a long line down E. 57th Street on the morning of the grand opening.
Check out our Instagram reel of the line outside the store on July 15, the morning of the grand opening.
“We never thought about opening in Manhattan before because of the price, but because of COVID the rent [lowered], and we thought maybe now is a good chance to open a store here,” says Shuhei Geshi, store operation manager for Daiso in the US. “We always get so many messages from customers on Instagram or Facebook that they want us to open a store in Manhattan, so this is like a destination for us, finally.”
It’s unusual to hear a favorable rent-related story during COVID, but in Daiso’s case, the pandemic actually helped. A real estate broker informed Daiso management about the availability of the Manhattan site in February 2021. The new store is Daiso’s largest in New York City, topping the square footage of the Flushing, Rego Park, and Japan Village locations.
Geshi says that all the stores have the same inventory, but the Manhattan location serves a different purpose for Manhattanites.
“Customers cannot come here by car, so I wanted to have this store so that customers can come back every day,” he says.
Shoppers can stop by Daiso Manhattan often for things that are easy to carry, rather than a once-a-month visit where they purchase items in bulk that they can put in the trunk of their cars.
Most Popular Items
You can find practically anything you’d want for your kitchen, your office, your latest craft project, and even your garden at Daiso. The shelves are filled with products you didn’t realize you needed.
Asked what Daiso’s best sellers are, Geshi first points to the stores well-stocked stationery section.
“Staples closed so many stores, and our stationery items are increasing in sales a lot. Especially pens from Japan are really popular,” he says, referring to brush pens that are used in calligraphy.
Items featuring characters from such beloved lines as Sanrio and Disney are also high on the list.
Surprisingly, Daiso’s brand of makeup pads and cotton balls are hot ticket items for the store. There’s even an end cap dedicated to them. Geshi points out that a nearby drug store sells the same items, but for a higher price. A bag of 400 cotton balls costs Daiso customers $1.99, whereas a 200-count bag goes for $3.99 elsewhere. The drug store brand’s cotton balls are larger, however.
If Geshi has his way, the first Daiso in Manhattan won’t be the last. His goal is to open more stores in the city, “near supermarkets or similar retail stores. Maybe customers will become interested in our products,” he says. Bronx and Staten Island locations are also on his wishlist.
Almost every item in the store is $1.99. The packaging for items in that price point doesn’t have the symbol/character for yen—¥ or 円. Products that cost more than $1.99 will have the price in yen, including tax. Yen-to-US dollar conversion signs are found throughout the store, so customers will know exactly how much each item costs. A lot of shoppers—myself included—don’t pay attention to those signs. Instead, we choose to throw whatever we want into our baskets and analyze our receipts after purchasing, marveling at how we bought so many items for so little money.
Daiso can keep costs low because it purchases in high volume—in the millions for a single product. This bulk-buying practice allows the variety store stick to its mission of helping consumers maintain a high standard of living without paying high prices.
You’re sure to find something that will make you happier or feel more efficient by strolling the aisles at Daiso.
Daiso Locations in New York City
Manhattan: 220 E. 57th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenues
Flushing, Queens: 40-24 College Point Boulevard
Rego Park, Queens: 61-35 Junction Boulevard
Brooklyn: 68 35th Street, 2nd Floor in Japan Village, Industry City
For more information, please visit Daiso’s website.