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Japanese Don Quixote plans to conquer Taipei

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Japan’s biggest discounter Don Quijote, named after the most famous novel about a crazy nobleman (spelled Don Quixote in English) by the greatest writer in the Spanish language, Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), will open its first store in Taiwan on January 19th, 2021 in the Ximending area, a shopping district specially popular with young people which is part of the Wanhua district.

Founded in 1980 in Tokyo as Just Co. by Japanese entrepreneur Takao Yasuda (born 1949), it changed its name in 1989 and completed the transition from wholesale to retail.

Nowadays a part of Pan Pacific International Holdings, the retailer has more than 500 locations, mostly in East Asia, but also in the United States, including Hawaii, and has been publicly traded since 1998.

Already rebranded Don Don Donki for Singapore and Hong Kong, the three-floor outlet will be operating 24 hours a day, like all convenience stores in Formosa. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), it has already created 400 jobs.

At a press conference held on January 18th, Taipei Deputy Mayor Vivian Huang (born 1969) said that “They are rendering an important service, because we cannot travel outside of Taiwan at the moment.”

At the same time, Huang credited the Invest in Taipei Office (ITO), run by the city government’s department of economic development, and the MOEA for assisting Don Quijote in opening its doors in Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Both were with the company every step of the way, from forming the Taiwanese company to selecting the location.

A media tour through the store showed more than 2,000 sweet and salty Japanese snacks not commonly available on the island, along with fruit and seafood, cosmetics and skincare products, groceries, discount items and even adult entertainment merchandise.

Don Quijote plays a distinctive song in its stores, called “Miracle Shopping”, sung by employee Tanaka Maimi. Released as a Japanese maxi single in 1999, it was followed by English and Cantonese versions.

Mitsuyoshi Takeuchi, the Don Quijote manager responsible for the region, stated that to be able to cope with the fierce retail competition in Taiwan by quickly expanding local supermarket chain PX Mart and French multinational corporation Carrefour, present since 1987, they will also offer services such as delivery or e-commerce, both of which have vastly expanded during the coronavirus epidemic.

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