Daiei Stores Officially Don Quijote
Honolulu’s former Daiei Store officially reopened this past Friday as Don Quijote (DQ or “Donki”) stores after an extensive remodeling and reimaging of the Kaheka Street store was completed. Thousands of shoppers as well as the curious flocked to the former Daiei store. People came to check the new layout as well as the expanded product mix over the weekend.
From everything I read, the Friday morning Grand Opening was a crowded, busy affair. The store opened in grand style with a traditional Hawaiian blessing as well as musical entertainment that reached a climax with a concert appearance by ukelele wizard musician, Jake Shimabukuro.
Due to my work schedule, I did not venture to the new Don Quijote Store until late that afternoon. Things were still very busy long after the live entertainment ended.
One thing everyone first notices upon their arrival to DQ is the “jungle” like decor consisting of plastic tropical foliage spread throughout the store. Plastic vines and flowers line the shelves, cover parts of the ceilings, adorn the signage and some of the products. Many of the shelving and display fixtures have been covered to feature “fake” wood to add to the tropical setting.
The tropical stuff is mixed with kitschy Japanese-like sign displays, products, and symbols hanging from the walls, shelves and the ceilings. This all creates a rather unique, but distinctly tropical Japanese atmosphere. I almost expect the two Peanut Sisters from the Mothra movie to pop up somewhere and start singing their famous theme song.
Don Quijote could certainly pass for a tourist attraction, which it became judging from the herds of shoppers and curious onlookers. It is too bad that they have a “no photos” inside policy. I think for newcomers and certainly for old time Holiday Mart and Daiei customers like myself, the temptation to photograph the inside of this new store was just too great to resist.
The product mix in the store has certainly expanded and grown. They now have a whole section to hawk “As Seen on TV” type of products… you know, those novel foot massagers, ginso knives and other K-Tel and Spence-Cliff types of products. The Hawaiian gifts section has expanded, along with the clothing department and the electronics department. Certainly more flatscreen TVs, digital cameras, boomboxes, telephones and cheaply made Chinese electronics are featured here. One of the hottest specials they had going in electronics was a $19 1 gigabyte SD memory card. I passed since none of my devices use the card. And they did not have any compact flash cards.
Of course the main reason why I and many other customers go to this store, is for the food. The grocery department, fresh fish, produce, deli, bakery and Asian foods are all still there with some products selling for lower than normal prices. I bought a box of cereal for $1.77. Hopefully they will offer more low price products, despite some fears that regular prices may creep up. Time will tell.
One section that is missed from the old Daiei days is the “Dollar Store” section. This is where a lot of Japanese kitchenware, office supplies and miscellaneous items were on sale for a dollar each. I used to buy a lot of plastic paper folders and CD boxes from the Dollar Store. It is sorely missed.
Other than that, the new Don Quijote Store looks like it will be a smashing success with local shoppers and perhaps even some tourists. Don Quijote’s former Daiei Stores in Pearl City, Waipahu and Kailua will be getting similar makeovers in the near future. Plans are also on the books for the chain’s expansion into the continental U.S.
My photos taken with Sony U30 pocket digital camera. Top photo: electronics department, crowded check-out line, and food court area.