4400 Hazelbridge Way
Richmond, British Columbia
James Shaw: Ed had this cybernetic glint in his eye. He wanted a new gaming keyboard from NCIX but to me it’s just a keyboard.
You should see how old my computer is. But Ed is the type who likes to keep in touch with new technology. He wrote articles about current and future tech trends for Nexus Newspaper when he was in college, JTM Games currently, and he occasionally contributes to a host of other nerdy websites. But my interest was piqued when he brought me to this fabulous Asian indoor mall in Richmond called Aberdeen Centre.
Ed Sum: Well, let’s simply call James an Aberdeen virgin. He’s never been here before so everything he saw was new to him. I’ve been far and wide; I’ve visited Metrotown in Burnaby, West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, and the “Death Star” of all shopping meccas, The Cube, in Kyoto.
This particular mall in Richmond technically pales in comparison. Its saving grace is being home to Daiso, the ultimate in dollar stores! You can find nearly everything (but undergarments) here at rock bottom prices. I like going here because they sell a great CD/DVD case which I can shuffle most of my DVDs with. And I’m a huge fan of Japanese stationary. There’s something about its smaller convenient size that I like. It’s not like the fat stuff coming out of the USA.
JS: Daiso is two levels of colourful goodness. And that is what separates it from normal dollar stores. When you walk in to most dollar store franchises, they’re boring and very unappealing to the eye. But the Japanese know how to pull the customers in. The items are colourful, things are spread out instead being bunched in small spaces. And many of the products are items you would use on a daily basis. Wether it’s made in Japan, China, Taiwan, etc., you will find it here.
My hat is off the corporate buyer of Daiso or the person who decides what store gets what. After buying a trinket or two for the family I walked away with something I needed, plant soap from Malaysia. I’ve already tested the product and I was very pleased. At three for $2 it was a good buy. But one of the more peculiar items was produced by Daiso of Japan. It was called Horse Fat Hair Shampoo. And I know what some of you are thinking and no, I don’t have the answer either. I’m still gathering up the nerve to wash my hair with this product.
ES: If there are some things I just have to say neigh to, this product has to be it.
But since I was the guide to James’ experience in this mall, it was up to the third level we went. The second level was more for the trendy stuff, but at least there’s a stop which I’d approve of: VooDoo Palace sells voodoo dolls of various characters and they make great stocking stuffers or presents to people hard to shop for! But after getting my keyboard, the stop was for food, until some minions and Totoro caught my attention!
JS: Voodoo Palace had this great shopping bag which said “I ♥ Nerds!” And it was accompanied by the character of Brainy Smurf from The Smurfs. If buying voodoo toys is your thing, buy it now. It’s definitely a conversation starter.
But Ed is correct, he was drooling first over Totoro before I pointed out the Minions from the Despicable Me franchise. But my jaw was still dragging on the floor after I took in the huge amount of pop culture figurines that filled the glass cabinets. Their collection was massive; the cabinet contained characters from the well-known TV series One Piece and Gundam to the more obscure (at least in North America) Yatterman and Anpanman.
It was up to me to put the two store clerks to the test. “Do you have any figurines from Ranma½?” I asked politely.
What a shock it was when he asked me to use Google search on their computer to explain what I was after. After the clerk scanned the photo his eyes quickly lit up and he replied “Oh!”
I was excited; “They have them!” I thought.
“No,” he said. What do they mean no? They have Yatterman but no Ranma½?
This series had over 100 episodes, several OVAs and a handful of films made. In my mind the clerk quickly changed appearance, he became a garden gnome and I was Basil Fawlty looking to place my hands around its bearded neck.
But perhaps he was wrong. I looked once more. He was right. No Ranma existed in their inventory, but that second look caused me to buy a Banpresto produced penguin keychain from Wallace & Gromit’s the Wrong Trousers instead.
ES: Poor James. He’s a man who only knows the anime from over twenty years ago. I’m not as Otaku now, but there’s still the odd collectable that I’d drool over if I come across it. Ranma½ is so passé.
Other series are timeless, and that’s what made Totoro so enduring. The figurines I spotted were tempting, but without signs of its original packaging or something telling that it’s authentic, I’m loathe to buy anything anime-related in the heart of pirate land. Chinese knock-offs of well-known anime icons are abundant in Richmond, BC.
JS: Well I knew my item was authentic and that is all that mattered to me.
The next time Ed and I are in Vancouver. I’ll be making a stop at Gacha Gacha Hobbies & Toys for a couple of figurines.
But it was on to Candyland which made sense after spending money on toys. This store has a great selection of Japanese candies and the best selection of Pocky I’ve ever seen. My head was spinning like I was on a sugar high, but this was caused more from indecision than anything else.
ES: And my wallet felt a little lighter when I spotted a candy tin that was redesigned for fans of “Grave of the Fireflies.” In this anime, Setsuko was very fond of Sakuma Drops, and while I’d love to collect the original tin that the anime featured, buying this ‘movie packaging’ version will have to do. I also grabbed a Moomin Candy tin, which is just as cute. But that was not the end to James and my adventure in Alberdeen Mall!
JS: I decided to be more frugal and only purchased Coca Cola Zero. Now I hate Coke Zero but I loved the can covered in Dragon Ball Z KAI characters. By the time I reached the counter to make my purchase, Ed was already waiting outside. He was eager to check out another business and he was edgy, like a child trying to escape his parents.
ES: Hardly. I was getting hungry, but I had to peek at Fun4Kidz before we finally ventured into the food court. Then it was James’ turn to follow me around like a lost rabbit. I knew what I wanted, but James had no clue….
JS: I really didn’t have a clue. Ed lead me into the food court on the highest floor. For me I really was like a kid in the candy store. I absolutely love food courts and I believe it is is the hub of any decent mall. Hillside Centre in Victoria used to have one full of not only a green grocer but many independent businesses. The foods ranged from Asian to pizza to ice cream. But that isn’t so now, it was reconstructed years ago. And now it’s all corporate and franchise food stalls and that leaves a bland empty feeling not only in my stomach but in my heart.
Here in Aberdeen Centre. they have Beard Papa’s, Frappé Bliss, Leung Kee Cantonese Food (my favourite), Ajijiman (Ed’s Favourite) and more!
ES: And if readers hear of our foodie adventures, I recommend checking out our review under the Two Hungry Blokes banner. Fortunately, we didn’t get into a food fight over where to eat. I went my way and James went Cantonese. In this food court and in this mall, its hard to escape Asian.