Daiso, the Japanese 100 yen store known for its adorable knickknacks and home goods, has finally opened its first Houston-area location in Katy.

Last Friday's opening comes two years after Daiso's initial announcement in 2016. Heather Nguyen, development partner with NewQuest Properties, which represents Daiso, said it took time to build up operations and distribution in Texas before opening in Houston. Though the company is used to the process with its stores in Asia, Nguyen said, Texas was brand-new territory. Further complicating matters, Daiso opens up as many as four stores at once to keep costs down.

The chain sells over 8,000 unique items, including snacks, drinks, home goods, stationary, beauty products, and more. Products range from weighty ceramic bowls for $3 to a vast array of face masks and makeup brushes for the store’s typical price point—$1.50. Most of the products are Daiso brand, imported from Japan.

“You’ve never seen this type of business model in Houston,” said Yoshi Murata, senior vice president of operations for Daiso’s U.S. branch. “You can go to any shopping center, and in all the centers are the same stores. [There’s] nothing special. We’re kind of a newcomer. I hope that [customers] will find something different.”

 

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Katy was chosen for Daiso's first Houston-area location due to its potential for growth.

“Katy is growing, especially education-wise; it’s a good education area. We’re more like a family-oriented store,” Murata said. “Whenever people are moving to that kind of area, we like to be there.”

Daiso first opened in Japan in the '70s and now operates thousands of stores in Asia, the Middle East, and Oceania. It reached the States in 2005, mostly in California, before branching out to Texas by way of Dallas.

According to Murata, 80 percent of the chain’s customers are women, and the growing line outside before Daiso’s Katy opening reflected that. Hideo Fukushima, Consul-General of Japan in Houston, said the store was like an amusement park for his wife and daughter.

Clarissa Allison of Spring and Fay Eay of Conroe waited over an hour before the store opened—and they weren’t the first in line. They were particularly excited to raid the snacks and school supplies on offer.

“We would drive to Dallas just to go to Daiso,” Allison said.

Daiso offered gift bags for the first 100 customers on Friday and Saturday and held a raffle with prizes including an iPad Mini, Apple Watch and gift cards.

A second Houston store in Westchase will open by the end of September with more locations to come, possibly in Sugar Land.

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