Japanese discount chain Don Don Donki is set to rejuvenate shopping in the heart of Orchard Road when it opens its 24-hour Southeast Asian flagship store on Friday (1 December).
Known as Don Quijote (or just ‘Donki’) in Japan, Donki is popular among Japanese shoppers for its affordable array of items ranging from electronics, cosmetics, other lifestyle items to gourmet food.
The 68-year-old founder of Don Quijote, Takao Yasuda, said finding store space in Singapore to accommodate Donki’s diverse product range was a challenge. Eventually, Donki’s management decided to set up store across two basement floors of Orchard Central spanning 1,397 square meters (15,000 sq ft).
“As you know, Singapore is very small and land is expensive, so it’s difficult to find a space that is the same size as Japan. But we have put a lot of stuff in to the Singapore store, so you will find that the product line-up here to be about the same as the stores in Tokyo,” said Yasuda, who is Chairman of Don Quijote.
Shoppers in Singapore who are visiting Donki for the first time could be overwhelmed by the scale of the store, similar to the retail experience at Mustafa Centre – this reporter took about three hours to browse and walk through the two floors of the store.
Most shoppers are likely to start browsing at B1, where they can find apparel, electronics, household items, toys, stationery, party merchandise and others, before heading to B2, which has a sumptuous spread of Japanese food items.
An intriguing feature of Donki is a barcode translator machine placed in many parts of the store, which allows shoppers to translate the product specifications from Japanese into English by simply scanning the bar code.
Navigating around the store to hunt for the items at B1 can be somewhat challenging as many of the aisles are narrow. Every shelf is stacked to the brim so it would take a while to shop for just a small portion of the items.
But you would be amply rewarded for the patience to browse through the seemingly endless shelves and find quirky items like curry-flavoured toothpaste and nose hair removers, and bargain items such as a 500-ml bottle of detergent for only 90 cents.
In contrast to B1, the food section at B2 is more spacious although the aisles for alcohol products and snacks were narrower.
Foodies would love the wide array of items sourced from all across Japan, ranging from soba, soy sauce, natto, miso, fresh fruits, tofu, konnyaku, instant noodles to Hokkaido wagyu beef.
For a Japanese shopping experience unlike any other in Singapore, be prepared to get lost in the aisles of Donki and dazzled by the 30,000 items in the store.
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