By Laura Zhang
There are not too many convenient stores that operate overnight in Singapore, let alone multiple-story department stores. With exotic introduction of various imports, including fresh produce and groceries, Singaporeans are gradually being spoilt for choice. Don Don Donki and Mustafa – distinctive from one another – yet offer all-time accessible and affordable goodies at any time of a day.
Which one would you visit for midnight food hunting?
Don Don Donki
In Japan, the franchise is called Don Quijote. The Japanese discount store chain opened its first two-story outlet in Singapore at Orchard Central on Dec 1. With huge, garish, hand-drawn banners, tightly packed aisles, Don Don Donki is an inventory that boasts everything from toilet paper to second-hand Rolex watches.
According to Chairman and founder of Don Quijote Takao Yasuda, he hit on the idea of starting the chain in Singapore when he was surprised by the pricing standard in Singapore, which is twice or thrice more expensive than almost everything of Japan.
Speaking to The Independent on 20 December, Mr Shoya, 28, a staffer from Don Quijote Japan said his work was shifted to Singapore Don Don Donki outlet for a week, along with about 20 colleagues from Japan.
“It’s the number one supermarket back in Japan,” Mr Shoya said.
“Apart from Don Don Donki being more expensive, everything else is modelled closely on the ones in Japan, including the interior and music, as well as the range of products.”
In 1973, a 900 Sq.Ft Shop space was rented along Serangoon Road. Electronic Items were added on to it’s range of products.
In April 1995, Mustafa Centre became a Shopping Paradise to many people. On a typical weekend, the store packs in over 15,000 customers of all nationalities.
Today, customers can get almost anything from over 300,000 items displayed on four levels covering an area of 400,000 Sq.ft within the six story building along Syed Alwi Road. The business concept of offering other services such as Foreign Exchange, Travel, and a Hotel, was also added in.
As mentioned, Don Don Donki offers an authentic Japanese supermarket layout, on top of their already genuine Japan-made goodies. On a side note, it is quite advisable to have a number of background musics, instead of playing “Don Don Donki” song on repeat.
Mustafa Centre exhibits a flea-market style, with items overflowing at the shelves, especially at fashion and gears sections. First-timers may get lost easily inside this gigantic mall, and it takes quite a bit of expertise and patience to sieve out what you do not need. Despite being packed, the store is neat and spacious.
Variety of Products
Fresh produce, meat and alcohol are sold at approachable prices at Don Don Donki, while having an excellent quality. They are nicely packaged and arranged, delicious-looking and fresh. Appliances and lifestyle products too are delicate and durable. As compared to Japanese convenient stores of the past, Don Don Donki encompasses a lot more variety and brands, and at arguably cheaper prices. This satisfies much of Singaporeans’ japanophilia.
Similarly, Mustafa Centre offers exotic products from India and other parts of the world. Spices for cooking are categorised into a few rows of gigantic shelves. Further, cheap branded goods like perfume and sports gears are also easily available here.
Undoubtedly, Mustafa offers a lot more kinds of products than Don Don Donki. However, Don Don Donki is considered more attractive to millennials, with appealing packaging and not-too-expensive costs. On the other hand, Mustafa satisfies basic needs for households, which are far from what concerns young people.
Both are popular with expatriates.
Japanese shoppers could be seen and heard often in Don Don Donki, while happily discovering what it offers. According to Mr Shoya, he could see Japanese easily in the outlet.
Similarly, Mustafa centre has created a niche in catering Indians and Muslims.
According to Mr Shoya, there are reasonably quite many people visit Don Don Donki at midnight, while at day time, it experiences high traffic.
On the other hand, Mr Ck, 52, a supervisor at Mustafa centre said there are not many shoppers at Mustafa, especially after 2a.m.
CEO of Don Quijote hopes to have at least 10 stores in Singapore by 2022 and see a doubling of the company’s sales figures over the same time-frame.
“I want to open a store wherever there are people who appreciate good quality products and good discounts. One should always be on the lookout for new challenges and opportunities – I believe that is the only way a company can continue to grow and succeed.”