Best Dollar Store: Daiso

For us cheapos, the goods on offer at the Daiso—or Japanese dollar store, with locations at Westlake and in the International District—are simply nicer than the yellowed wrapping paper and plastic doodads that fill American-born stores. Ironically, most of the items are made not in Japan, but, as at the standard dollar store, in China. Yet the selection is entirely different, dare I say . . . tasteful. I have the cutest pair of ceramic rabbit salt-and-pepper shakers (black and white, of course), which I got for $1.50 each (factoring in the exchange, most items are at least $1.50), along with all kinds of adorable—and dirt-cheap—food storage, kitchen utensils, and serveware. There are sake sets and sushi plates for next to nothing, Kawaii-style stationery, pet and cleaning supplies, all kinds of cool things. When I used to wait tables, I bought all my uniform ties from the Daiso—and regularly received compliments on them. Even if you aren’t in the market to buy anything, listening to Japanese pop and strolling the narrow aisles packed with stuff like vegetable scrubbers and laundry nets, you might find something you didn’t even know you needed.

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