Are your chair legs cold?
Is your banana getting smashed on the way to work?
Need a light to get a look inside your kid’s ear? How about training chopsticks to make you a sushi master?
This store can hook you up with chair socks, a banana case and thousands of other fascinating finds for cheap.
What’s up with that?
It’s Daiso, a Japanese dollar store at the Alderwood mall. Pass Victoria’s Secret on the way toward J.C. Penney, and it’s the colorful little shop on the left that is bursting at the seams.
Daiso is like Archie McPhee and Big Lots rolled into an Asian dollar store where most items are $1.50.
It’s a mecca of fun and functional bargains. Housewares, beauty goods, party stuff galore. Pet clothes. Soba noodles. Cleaning tools with adorable faces. Bookends, erasers, toys. Japanese teapots, sake cups, tiny sauce containers.
Warning: It’s an impulse-buy minefield.
You’ll succumb to the cute factor of silicone pot holder frogs and emoji seaweed cutters.
If that doesn’t entice you, the snacks will. There’s a wall of crispy, crunchy, sweet and spicy morsels.
I dare you to walk out of there empty-handed.
This is the little shop that could. It is a U.S. flagship.
“We were the first Daiso store in the United States,” said Asami Moretro, Alderwood store leader. She has been with the store since it opened in 2005 by Sears; it relocated to the opposite end of the mall two years ago.
Daiso has 2,800 stores in Japan, where items are 100-yen, about a dollar. There are another 860 Daiso stores in 26 countries.
Its humble beginnings here helped springboard it to 50 stores in three states. There are six other Daiso stores in Washington, and more than 40 stores in California and Texas.
There’s even a second store popping up here in Lynnwood. A new Daiso store is slated to open soon in the 24 Hour Fitness plaza by the mall.
“It will be three times bigger than this,” Moretro said, adding that the mall store will stay open.
Double Daiso! I double-dare you to walk out empty-handed.
The word daiso means “big creations.” The chain carries about 70,000 products, with many developed in-house then made in China. About 500 new products are created every month.
My daughter-in-law is from Japan. “I can’t live without Daiso,” she said. She’s the one who got me hooked.
When she had an apartment in Tokyo, she really did use chair socks so the chair legs wouldn’t scratch the floor. The socks come in designs, stripes, flowers, pandas and other looks. They also fit baby feet.
My son, a teacher, often shops for items for his third-grade classroom. “I have about 20 storage baskets from Daiso,” he said.
Check it out, if not only to look at the interesting packaging with cartoon graphics. The writing is in Japanese and English.
Andrea Brown at 425-339-3443; email@example.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
A Daiso wonderland
Ten things from the magical wonderland of Japanese bargains:
1. Stainless steel soap. The package reads: “Deodorize a smell from your hands. Don’t use for another purpose.”
It’s a steel bar shaped like soap, with no suds or film.
“Wash with this, run water, rub it,” said Asami Moretro, Daiso Alderwood store leader. “All the garlic smell, fish smell, goes away. A lot of sushi restaurants use it.”
It also evacuates smells such as paint and onions.
2. Illuminated ear pick. “People of all ages can use it without anxiety,” the label says. The bright green beam is like a mini lightsaber making you a Jedi master of the ear.
3. Training chopsticks. One-piece sticks, easy to grab with thumb pad. For kids? I need these.
4. Chair leg socks. Socks are such a personal choice for legs, even when it comes to chairs.
“Prevents noise caused by friction. Makes it harder to scratch flooring,” the label reads.
“Please do not put it by force.”
For real. It really says “please.”
5. Banana chipper. It says “please” four times on this package, including “Please do not use it for what it is not used to be.” It says no responsibility is taken for damage or for claims of lost profit from third parties. The blades slice a banana into 18 pieces. It works. I tried it.
6. Instant boobs. I also tried these … in the interest of consumer science, that is. Two adhesive balloons self-inflate to 38Ds.
“Bomba sexy,” the package reads. It’s slapstick, not raunchy.
Find these in the party goods section. There’s also an instant male anatomy item. I didn’t try this.
7. Bento boxes. Small colorful lunch boxes with dividers for sushi and other foods. Accessories to go with the boxes include a punch tool for dried seaweed that makes emojis and molds of bunnies and cars to make hard-boiled eggs fun.
“In Japan, when you go to school, Mom has to make lunch,” Moretro said. “They are not going to make a sandwich. They make bento boxes. Very creative.”
8. Snacks. Craving salty? Dried squid. Spicy? Wasabi peas. Sweet? Chocolate-dipped biscuits shaped like mushrooms. Pocky sticks in a dozen flavors. This place is munchie nirvana.
9. Egg timer. Put this cute little plastic thing that’s shaped like an egg in a pot of water when making hard-boiled eggs. The color changes for soft, medium and hard. Brilliant!
10. Storage boxes. To keep all the cool Daiso stuff in.