In a country known for impeccable manners and minimalist design, Japan’s Don Quijote discount retailer is the rebel, the noisy neighbor, the ugly duckling. In an era of smartphones and one-click shopping, it is proof that bricks-and-mortar is not dead.
Like Amazon.com, Don Quijote has perfected the art of delivering what customers want — and what they didn’t know they wanted. But unlike the giant e-tailer, it does so through physical stores that assault the senses with a “jungle” of products as dense as the Amazon rain forest.
Shoppers can lose themselves between piles of Pokemon toys, wireless earphones, food, gag gifts and Prada wallets — all crammed into impossibly tight spaces and punctuated with garish displays of flowers, loud music and even fish tanks.
The formula appears to work. In a Japanese economy that suffered two lost decades, its revenues have never declined.
And now, the company behind this retail oddity affectionately known as Donki is taking its unique brand of chaos to new markets across Asia.
After opening its first store in Thailand in February, the chain is planning two more in Singapore in May, followed up by Hong Kong in July. There are also plans to introduce the brand to Taiwan, while the Philippines and Malaysia are on the map as well — although no final decision has been taken.
“Don Quijote won’t stay in Japan but will build a top-level retailer worldwide,” said Koji Ohara, chief executive of Donki’s parent Pan Pacific International Holdings, in October.