Howdy everyone, and welcome back to Houston Historic Retail. If you’re new to HHR, welcome! We’re all glad to have you here. Today we’re taking a look at a new retailer on the Houston scene, Miniso. Chances are you probably haven’t heard of Miniso, it’s a fairly new company opening its first store in China in 2013. If you feel like you’ve seen the logo before, it’s “highly inspired” by the Uniqlo clothing brand. The stores are patterned after international successful Japanese Yen Shop (Dollar Store), Daiso. Let’s take a minute to explain what Daiso is; this chain hails back to the 1970s and has successfully been implemented on every continent except Antarctica, where they have yet to spread. While inspired by normal “Dollar Store” merchandise, items sold by Daiso have the distinction of being (almost all) Japanese-designed. Pretty much everything in the store is under $20, and the items are all of better quality than American Dollar store junk. Miniso has adapted this idea of selling Japanese “inspired” dollar store items, along with some brand exclusive partnerships, like Marvel and Cartoon Network. If you’re starting to think this sounds like one company is ripping another off, well, you’re not alone. The company has a somewhat unsavory history, originally claiming to be a “famous Japanese company,” then later co-founded by a Japanese designer who did not exist. Miniso also expanded into North Korea in 2017, although its purpose mostly seems to be as a tourist shop. Despite the controversy, Miniso does seem to be popular, especially thanks to its media based brand connections.
- 6708 S Texas 6, Houston, TX 77083 – Today’s location
- 2560 FM 1960, Houston, TX 77073 – Free-standing location
- Memorial City Mall – Proposed
Japanese chain Daiso first entered the United States in 2005, operating using a franchise system. It took a few years for Daiso to arrive in Texas, with their first store opening in 2015. Daiso would be in Houston a year later. These stores, which are seemingly operated by their California franchisee, have now grown to 14 locations within Texas. Miniso, on the other hand, first reached the U.S. in 2015 and Texas late last year. While the number of Miniso locations does not match Daiso, the two chains do inhabit an almost identical operating area. Based on my visit, Miniso stores are not as large and do not stock nearly as much as a Daiso would. Space was set up to allow the store to be as merchandised as possible. However, it did end up feeling a bit cramped, even with the reduction in items. As for the quality of items, I needed something that I could compare to Daiso. While I don’t have regular items I purchase at Daiso, I do love snagging one of their “Petit Block” sets now and again. These are similar to lego models, but maybe 1/3 the size and much more detailed as a result. They’re fun and easy to build and cost a couple of bucks each, not a bad deal. Miniso did indeed have some “Construction Vehicles Building Blocks” (their name, not mine), which I picked up. Sadly these were just knock-off full-size lego, there were few pieces. They were cheap quality and nasty feeling. If you’re in the area and have already been to a Daiso, then I’d say Miniso is worth the stop. If you haven’t been to a Daiso, go find one! Even if you think you’re not the kind of person who needs something from a Japanese Dollar Store, you’ll find something.