Daiso, the dollar store that's beloved in its native Japan and increasing popular around the world, has announced that it will make its first foray into Houston this year, with nearly a dozen locations planned in the greater Houston area. But for those who love things that are insanely adorable and surprisingly cheap—that's all of us, right?— still have to wait several more months for the first Daiso here to open its doors. But those with a craving for Gudetama lunch boxes and light-up bear pens don’t have to wait. It should come as no surprise that Houston's Chinatown district is already home to some stand-out Asian gift shops with everything a Japanese expat or Houston native hungry for adorable trinkets could want.
Probably the best known of Houston’s Japanese trinket shops is FIT Japanese, 9889 Bellaire Blvd. This spacious second-floor shop is jam-packed with everything from stationery, beauty products and plushes to everyday household items, like brooms, sponges and utensils. Fit isn’t a true dollar store, like Daiso, but items are still affordable, with many sold for $2. The price points make it hard to resist from grabbing an extra item—or five—on your way to the checkout counter.
“Moshi moshi” is a friendly greeting over the telephone in Japanese, but Moshi Moshi Gifts, 9108 Bellaire Blvd., doesn’t sell much in the way of phone paraphernalia. The shop’s main claim to fame is its stationery—a wall in the tiny shop is dedicated to plastic folders and brightly-colored notebooks, while a shelf holds hundreds of pens of all sizes, colors and shapes. In that way, it’s very similar to fit, but Moshi Moshi has a greater selection of anime merchandise, and customers who enter tend to make a bee-line for their favorite Sailor Moon and Madoka Magica items.