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October 06, 2006

From Daiei to Donki

Don Quijote is a quirky Japanese department store chain that's bringing its distinctly colorful, sometimes chaotic shopping experience to Hawaii. Its flagship store, the first in the U.S., held its grand opening at the former Daiei location on Kaheka Street near Ala Moana today. The carnival atmosphere outside (courtesy lion dancers, live music by Jake Shimabukuro, and wandering balloon artists) was echoed throught the aisles within, the place packed floor to ceiling with just about anything you could imagine, and with psychedelic signs and banners (and the store's blue penguin mascot Donpen) dominating the view in every direction. 
Visiting Donki stores in Japan is apparently even more disorienting, with purposefully cluttered aisles, noisy displays, and products scattered randomly to make shopping more of a treasure hunt. But the whimsical outlook has served it well, the chain growing to over 100 stores with over $2 billion in gross sales last year. And judging by the crowds, long checkout lines and overflowing shopping carts, Donki will probably do quite well in Hawaii.

Daiei will surely be missed, having served Honolulu well since the '70s. I remember its first store at Pearlridge, and its expansion in the '80s through the acquisition of Holiday Mart locations. But Donki seems a worthy successor to its place as the destination for Japanese knick knacks.

I'm not sure how long it'll take before people stop calling the place Daiei, though... since some people still call it Holiday Mart.

See all my cameraphone pictures here. Posted by Prophet Zarquon at October 06, 2006 08:57 PM


Posted by macpro on October 8, 2006 8:40 AM:

I gotta go back and sneak some pictures of that toilet video they got going. The decor is still a novelty, and if they lifted their stupid "no photos" ban, the place could turn into some kind of odd tourist attraction. More photos and comments at:

The Grand Re-Opening of Don Quijote

Posted by Eivissu on January 22, 2007 10:52 PM:

This place is basically right across my office building. While the outside tables and faux foliage look very good, I'm not sure I like the inside at all. I got a little claustrophobic the first time I went in, and I try to avoid going in as much as I can these days.

And yes, I still call it Daiei. I'm still trying to get used to calling it at least "Donki."

Posted by sandy on January 30, 2007 12:45 PM:

What? It changed again? I still can't stop calling it Holiday Mart.

Posted by Michael on April 1, 2007 1:32 PM:

Yes, I went to kindergarten at the Nimitz School from 1959-1960. My teacher was Mrs. Shimabukuro. I lived in NHA#3 on 15th Street with my parents, 2 younger sisters and younger brother. I remember drinking milk out of the Dairymen's Lani-Moo whistle cup. I went to Holy Family Catholic School, which was a walk through a neighbor's back yard and then across Main street. I don't remember the "Ah-gee-no-moto" jingle but I do remember the Sunbeam bread "puka free" slogan. I remember this black Chevy panel truck that used to stop every evening in the NHA-3 neighborhood selling candies, ice cream and little toys. Does anyone remember what it was called? I also recall the Navy yellow jeep that sprayed for mosquitos once a week and the older kids riding behind it on their bicycles in the vapor. We left NHA-3 and Hawaii in Feb. 1962 after my dad got transferred to the mainland. I have not been back since.

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