There’s just one thing that I really don’t like about Daiso – you can’t give someone a gift without them knowing exactly how much you spent. It really doesn’t matter how good, functional, or well made the item is, once people realise it’s from Daiso, their perception of quality (of the item and maybe even of the giver) seems to diminish. That “Daiso Japan” label is on every one of their items, and for gift giving purposes, it might as well say “Cheapo”. Fortunately, there are other places where you can get household goods, personal care items, stationary, Japanese snacks, and other knick-knacks at the bargain price of $2. And nobody has to know how much you spent.
The place where anything and everything you see only costs you $2. Daiso has 2,800 stores in Japan alone, and is in 25 other countries, including Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Kuwait, Mexico, and the US. In Singapore, we have 14 Daiso outlets (and counting!). Ahh, Daiso…You were once the go-to place for low prices. You made all your customers feel rich and empowered, because anything they wanted was within their reach. But now you have some growing competition.
Alternatives to Daiso – Tokutokuya
Tokutokuya is another $2 shop with two outlets – Changi City Point and Suntec. They also have a range of items that are priced above $2, but these items are clearly tagged (so there are no surprises). All remaining “untagged” items are $2. When I visited their Suntec outlet, I saw a lot of similar products that I would typically find at Daiso. But there were a lot of different and unique items too, including some shown below, such as $3 baskets (you can actually buy the shopping basket), paper mache crafts, and reduced-to-clear snacks as low as $1.
Pronounced “two”, 2wo is another $2 Daiso alternative. Because they operate as a pop-up store, their locations can change. Currently, they are at Liang Court, Suntec City, The Star Vista, and Westgate. I was able to visit their Suntec shop right after visiting Tokutokuya (fortunately, they weren’t too far apart from each other). The Suntec 2wo store is quite a bit smaller than your typical Daiso outlet. The range of products offered is also not as diverse, but on the plus side, the products are not as crammed in. There’s a sign on the storefront that says “no photography”, but I got permission from the manager to take photos for the purpose of this article.
Mijyi, like Tokutokuya, only has 2 outlets currently – [email protected] AMK (Big Mac Centre) and City Square Mall, which was the outlet I visited. There are a number of items that are priced above $2, but the vast majority are at $2 (this seems to be a big trend with all the Daiso alternatives). Compared to the others, it seems that Mijyi has the most extensive food & snack section, with snacks from a variety of places (not just from Japan). I think that might have been why I took photos only of food and kitchen items, and completely ignored the other household goods, stationary, and personal care items (oops!).
I’ve never been to Mixcart (547 Geylang Rd, S389502), though I have visited their online Qoo10 shop, which had a “buy 10 items, get free shipping” promo earlier this year. So unfortunately, I have no photos to share. But I found a great review article from SGExpatLife with loads of photos of Mixcart. You can view that article here.
It’s nice to see other discount Daiso-like shops offering $2 household goods, personal care items, arts and crafts, and other knick-knacks. I’m still amazed how many things can be purchased for just $2. Things that perhaps my grandparents could not afford or were simply unavailable to them, like steel knives, leather belts, plastic slippers and wooden canes. While I’m grateful to be alive at a time when these goods are available and affordable, I’m more grateful that I walked out empty handed because I didn’t have any desire or need to buy anything. Cheap prices are great, but at the same time, they can entice us to hyper-consume. So I guess it is not just the gift recipient who might devalue these $2 products, seeing them as cheap and disposable; it is also we, as consumers, who do it too.