There’s a big change in store for the J-List crew this summer: the impending opening of a Costco about ten minutes from here. When I came to live in Japan in 1991, it was frankly not a convenient place to live, and if you didn’t want the meager items Japanese stores decided to stock for you, you had no alternatives. Back in those days Japan had official policies trying to keep out large foreign retail shops, which were disruptive to the charming but inefficient mom-and-pop stores that dotted the landscape. During the 1990s this trend reversed, however, and large companies like Toys “R” Us and Ikea started making inroads. Costco — a large membership warehouse club chain — opened its first store in Japan in 1999 and has been growing at a fast pace, as Japanese consumers learn the joys of buying a year’s supply of detergent and tiramisu in a container so large it can only be called a “bucket.” While I am happy about having a Costco so close to me, closer to my Japanese home than my house in San Diego in fact, I have mixed feelings, too. It seems wrong somehow that Japan should be this convenient, and I’m also worried about gaining weight from too much tiramisu.
Iincredibly, a Costco is opening near J-List.