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100-Emon at Kohnoike Higashi Osaka-City
A variety store or price-point retailer is a retail store that sells inexpensive items, usually with a single price point for all items in the store. Typical merchandise includes cleaning supplies, toys, and confectionery. Formerly many variety stores had lunch counters for inexpensive meals. "Variety store" may also refer to a convenience store, especially in Canadamarker, the Philippinesmarker, and in northern New England in the United States.


Variety store products include cooking supplies, small tools, personal hygiene supplies, kitchen supplies, organizational supplies, small office supplies, holiday decorations, electronics supplies, gardening supplies, home decor novelties, toys, pet supplies, out of print books, DVDs and VHS tapes, food products and automotive supplies.

Some items sold at a certain price point would cost that much anyway, whereas other items offer a substantially lower price than usual. There are three reasons a variety store is able to sell merchandise at such a low price:

  • The product is a generic or private label, often specially manufactured for such stores, using cheaper ingredients and processes than products intended for the mass market.
  • The product was manufactured cheaply for a foreign market but was then re-imported by an unauthorized distributor (grey market goods).
  • The product is purchased from another retail store or distributor as discontinued and discounted merchandise. (Often items were manufactured to coincide with the promotion of a motion picture, television show or special event (e.g. Olympic games), and are past their prime price.)

Some stores carry mostly new merchandise, some mostly closeout merchandise bought from other stores below regular wholesale cost.

Depending upon the size, some variety stores may have a frozen food and drink section, and also one with fruits and vegetables. The Deal$, Dollar Tree, and 99 Cents Only Store chains in the U.S. are three such examples. Some stores may have a section of single price point items combined on the same premises with a section selling larger, more expensive merchandise like CD players, lamps, and silverware. The flagship store of Jack's 99 and Jack's World in New York Citymarker is an example of such a store. Jack's 99 carries all types of items that retail for 99 cents, whereas Jack's World sells branded goods at discount prices.


In economic terms, the pricing strategy of variety stores is inefficient as some items may actually be sold elsewhere at a lower price. However, this is balanced by the marketing efficiencies of a single price structure and consumers accept potentially overpriced items. The pricing inefficiency becomes unacceptable at higher price points. Thus there are no "100 dollar stores" where all items sell for $100; consumers expect to pay the correct amount, as inaccuracies result in significant dollar amounts.

In many developed countries, stock can be imported from states with lower variable costs, due to factors such as lower minimum wages or taxation . Usually merchandise is imported by a general merchandise importer/wholesaler, then sold to the stores at a wholesale rate.

Although some people may link variety stores with low-income areas, this comparison is not always necessarily true. For example, Atherton, Californiamarker has a variety store within its city limits, even though it has a median household income of over $200,000 a year.

Throughout the world

North America

The concept of the variety store originated with the five and ten, nickel and dime, five and dime or dimestore, a store where everything cost either five cents (a nickel) or ten cents (a dime). The originator of the concept may be Woolworth's, which began in 1878 in Watertown, New York. Other five and tens that existed in the USA included W.T. Grant, J.J. Newberry's, McCrory's, Kresge, McLellan's, and Ben Franklin Stores. These stores originally featured merchandise priced at only five cents or ten cents, although later in the century the price range of merchandise expanded. Inflation eventually dictated that the stores were no longer able to sell any items for five or ten cents, and were then referred to as "variety stores" or more commonly dollar stores. Given that $0.05 in 1913 when adjusted for inflation is $1.15 in 2009 dollars, this retailing concept has shown remarkable vitality over the years.

Well-known dimestore companies included:

Of these, only Duckwall-ALCO and Ben Franklin continue to exist in this form, while Kresge and Walton's went on to become mega-retailers Kmart and Wal-Martmarker. Beginning around the 1960's, others tried the larger "discount store" format as well, such as W.T. Grant, Woolworth's Woolco stores, and TG&Y Family Centers.

Among today's dollar stores are:


In Spainmarker there are Todo a 100 shops ("everything for 100 pesetas" (0.60 €)), although due to the introduction of the euro and inflation, most products cost a multiple of 0.60 or 1 euro. Most of these shops maintain their name in pesetas, and most of them have been renamed as Casi todo a 100 ("almost everything for 100 [pesetas]"), Todo a 100, 300, 500 y más ("everything for 100, 300, 500 or more") or Todo a un euro. Colloquially, the expression "todo a 100" implies that something is either cheap, kitsch or low quality.

In Portugal there were Trezentos' shops ("Store of the 300 (escudos)" (1.50€)), but with the introduction of the Euro currency, this designation is not used nowadays and the terms 'bazar' or 'euro store' are preferred.

In Germany, there are ToBi (Total Billig, which translates as "Totally Inexpensive") stores where most items cost one or two Euro or less.

In Sweden, there is a Dollarstore chain with fixed prices of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and steps of 50 up to 500 SEK.

  • In Italymarker: NINEtNINE cent paradise
  • In Irelandmarker: Euro 2, Poundworld, Euroworld
  • In United Kingdommarker: Poundland, Poundworld, 99p Stores
  • In the Netherlandsmarker: Hema originally a "guilder store", now a department store
  • In Germanymarker: EuroShop, Pfennigland, TEDi
  • In Maltamarker: Tal-Lira
  • In Francemarker: Prisunic, Monoprix, M. 1-2-3
  • In Norwaymarker: Tier´n , which is a colloquialism for ten kroner = USD 1.75.
  • In Swedenmarker: Bubbeltian, called by some Tian, which is a colloquialism for ten kronor (crowns) = USD 1.60. Another chain that has been spreading in Sweden during the last seven years is Dollarstore , a chain where everything costs either 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 100 skr, which is supposed to roughly equal one, two, three, four, five or ten dollars. It is not related to the American store.
  • In Denmarkmarker: Tiger, which means tiger (the animal) as well as being a pun on words for a ten-kroner coin Danish krone (crowns). The chain is owned by corporation "Zebra". The Tiger chain recently began releasing original music, after a campaign on the company's website found them several artists.


In Japanmarker, 100-yen shops (百円ショップ hyaku-en shoppu or 百均 hyakkin) have been proliferating across Japan since around 2001. This is considered by some an effect of decade-long recession of the Japanese economy.

For a few years, 100-yen shops existed not as stores in brick-and-mortar building, but as vendors under temporary, foldable tents. They were (and still are) typically found near the entrance areas of supermarkets.

One major player in 100 Yen Shops is Hirotake Yano, the founder of Daiso Industries Co. Ltd., which runs the the Daiso chain. The first store opened in 1991, and there are now around 2,400 stores in Japan. This number is increasing by around 40 stores per month. Daiso has also expanded into North America, Asia, and the Middle East.

In Chinamarker, two yuan (or three yuan, depending on the area's economic prosperity) shops have become a common sight in most cities.

In Hong Kongmarker, department stores have opened their own 10-dollar-shops (USD 1.28) to compete in the market, and thus there are now "8-dollar-shops" (USD 1.02) in Hong Kong, in order to compete with a lower price. Note that there is no sales tax in Hong Kong, but the price is higher than in Japan or the US.

In Indiamarker, they are known as 49 & 99 shops . Typical price range in these shops is 49 & 99 Indian Rupees. 49 Rupees was approximately equal to one US dollar when these started, also 49 and 99 are near rounds of 50 and 100 respectively to draw the shoppers. Items are generally cheap gift articles, toys, watches, office stationery, and crockery.

In Taiwanmarker, fixed price stores can be found in many locations, including night markets, regular shopping streets, regular market stalls, and department stores. Two typical price points are NT$39 and NT$49. Given that the retail environment in Taiwan is already highly competitive, it is not unusual to see such stores fail. Typically the goods for such stores are manufactured in China to keep costs down.


South America

In Brazilmarker, these stores are called um e noventa e nove (one and ninety-nine, meaning BRL 1.99, about US 90 cents) usually written as 1,99 (note the decimal comma). They began to appear in the decade of 1990 possibly as a consequence of both the increase in the purchasing power of the low income classes after the curbing of hyperinflation and the decrease in middle-class net income due to a gradual increase in the national average tax load .

Brazilians sometimes use the expression um e noventa e nove to refer to cheap, low quality things or even people.

In Chilemarker, they are called todo a mil (referring to the one thousand Chilean pesos banknote). They are commonly located in middle class neighbourhoods where big retail stores don't usually venture and in small commercial districts like the ones in Santiago, Chilemarker


  • In Australia: The Reject Shop, The Basement, Go-Lo, Crazy Clark's, Chickenfeed (Tasmania), Red Dot (Western Australia), Browse in and Save (South Australia), Hot Dollar (NSW & ACT)
  • In New Zealandmarker: The $2 Shop, Doller Saver and the 1,2,3 Dollar Shop

Price points

The store is usually named for the price of the merchandise sold in the store (but see below); the names vary by area and time, as each country has a different currency, and the nominal price of the goods has increased over time due to inflation. Modern names include:

Some variety stores are not true "single price-point" stores despite their name. Often the name of the store, such as "dollar store", is only a suggestion, and can be misleading. Some stores that call themselves "dollar stores", such as Dollar General and Family Dollar in the United States, have items that cost more or less than a dollar. Some stores also sell goods priced at multiples of the named price. The problem with the name is also compounded in some countries by sales tax, which leads to taxable items costing the customer more than a dollar. Some purists maintain that the phrase "dollar store", in the strict sense, should only refer to stores which sell only items that cost exactly $1.

Some stores can have prices which are not round multiples of currency, such as the "99-cent store" or "88-yen store". As inflation increases the nominative price of goods, the names of such stores must also change over time.

In popular culture

See also


  1. DollarStore Sweden
  2. Typical Overseas Stores
  3. my dollarstore India

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