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Weighing in at MINISO’s new Vancouver, BC Operation

By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)

On August 11th, The Vancouver Sun revealed that the Chinese-Japanese retailer MINISO is setting up shop on Granville Street, with more operations to follow. A week later, I was in town to attend a concert and happened to walk by it on my way to my hotel. My weekend visit to this metropolis was much-needed since home is a tiny town, with hardly any operation offering quality dollar store valued goods I am regularly after. As I entered the doors, the cheerful energy from the staff and vibrant colours in the variety of products found throughout impressed me.

At first, I thought I was walking into a business filled with products for ladies. Health and beauty products were the first items I saw. A bit of wandering around had me discovering items I can use for my travelling office and sojourns into the wilderness. The space is not all that huge (even though it measured 4900 square feet). I thought I was walking into a LEGO store given its style of decor. I bought myself a 11-piece Swiss Army Knife for a fantastic price of $4.95.

Naturally, I gravitated to the electronics section, and I passed by a small section dedicated to stationery. I found Bluetooth speakers, headphones and power banks. Another customer looked at which of the three can hold more juice. These particular items are located very close to the till so staff can keep an eye on, should shoplifting occur.

I appreciated the fact you can try listening to the ear buds. Normally, for hygienic reasons, other stores will not let you try them on, and if there is a problem, they usually go back to the manufacturer. Since MINISO made their own, replacing the ends of the demo product is easy or cleaning them up regularly for customers to try on is easy enough. For such a bulk item, I do not mind owning a cheap pair to keep in the backpack. Sometimes, I do not have a sufficient charge on my BOSE Quietcomfort and do not carry my Sennheiser everywhere. Personally, I think the audio quality is not the best, but they work in a pinch.

Next to this section, I saw a few food items which I could have bought to snack on. With dinner near, I passed. Towards the back were kitchen and storage items. Along the walls were items to furnish a home. Sofa / pillow plushies were abound and I thought there were more items for the female shopper than for the male. While my man-cave is filled with nerdy material, toys and items to assert my geekdom, this place has more items to assert the Japanese way of life than cater to the pop culture nerd.

I can not make a full comparison of the range of products this store has to Daiso. This other dollar store operation has two floors chock full of value-priced merchandise. Trying to weigh in on which is better is difficult even though I’m eyeing which operation has the better screen protector, an item I can easily wear through in a few months. They are only as good as its anti-glare and smudge protection, to which I think this company’s product has none. This place seems to carry more celluar accessories for the iPhone than other devices, and hopefully this will change.

The electronics consumer only has to visit once in a blue moon for replacing a case or getting a replacement cables. While I looked for an all-in-one to use for both my Apple and Android devices, I was sad to not find one. For stationery, once when they have more product out (they were still stocking shelves when I was there), I can start refilling my B5 sized binders once again. I always favoured stationery from Japan more because they feel more elegant and compact, and now I can stay in the downtown Vancouver area instead of commuting out to Richmond.

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