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Five things you’d never expect to buy at a convenience store, but are actually popular

31 Comments
By Scott Wilson, RocketNews24

Convenience stories in Asia are known all over the world for actually living up to their name. Whether you need an emergency swimsuit, want to grab pretty much any drink ever made, or just have a hankering for some "Evangelion" donuts, a nearby "conbini" will suit your needs.

But sometimes there are items available in "conbini" that don’t seem to make any sense… and yet people still buy them. Japanese netizens shared their most confusing yet surprisingly useful convenience store finds online, and we have them here for you. Would you ever admit to buying some of these?

The first item on Japanese netizens’ list of weird-yet-useful "conbini" things: DVDs.

Need something to keep the kids busy? See a DVD that brings back childhood memories that you suddenly can’t live without? Very few people regularly buy DVDs from convenience stores, but when you want one in a pinch, you’ll be thankful for whatever they have available.

Next on the list of bizarrely convenient things: neckties.

All right, I have to come clean on this one: I own a 99-yen convenience store tie. I needed one last-minute, bought it at a nearby conbini, and 10 years later it’s still the best tie I’ve ever had. So while buying your next tie at a convenience store may seem strange, I can assure you it will be one of the best purchases you ever make.

Speaking of funeral stuff, the next thing you think is crazy but is actually really helpful: grave decorations.

In Japan, visiting the gravesites of your family and offering them candles and incense is an extremely common practice. Still, at first glance it may seem strange to have the candles and incense sold at convenience stores—shouldn’t you go to a specialty shop and get something nice instead? Maybe, but you’ll settle for anything in an emergency.

The next item on the list of things you’d never think of buying from a conbini but totally would: flowers.

Flowers. Those are the things you buy at a flower shop, or a home goods center, or maybe a supermarket or something, right? You don’t usually buy them in the same place you get cigarettes or soda or a cheap lunch bento heated up, right?

Well, wrong, apparently!

The last item on the list of things you’d never expect to buy in a "conbini:" large paper bags.

Why would you need to buy a bag in a convenience store? I mean, they give you a bag to put your purchase in! …right?

Have you ever spotted something in a convenience store that made you wonder who would ever buy it? More to the point, have you ever bought one yourself?

Source: Naver Matome

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31 Comments
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I think the final question in the article is there to invite snarky responses, but I find Japanese convenience stores the best by far of any in the world.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Having been to quite a few countries and their versions of the convenience store, it is my belief that Japanese convenience stores are the best in the world for the purpose they are intended to serve.

Here is the thing. It is gotten to the point where there really isn't anything I wouldn't expect to buy in a Japanese convenience store but that are actually sold and are popular. I mean, seriously. When was the last time you went into a convenience store in Japan and said, "wow, I can't believe they sell this here". Rather, your reaction is more likely to be "yappari, they sell it" or more simply "sasuga!"

Now, if they would just get rid of the porno mag section, that would be one product I would be happy for them not sell!

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I find Japanese convenience stores the best by far of any in the world.

I am in total agreement. Whenever I travel to other countries, the one thing I really and truly miss about Japan is the easy and convenient access to 24-hour shopping

4 ( +6 / -2 )

A thing I’d never expect to find at a convenience store...

Cute cashiers. Seriously. It's definitely not all convenience stores but a number of them have the cutest college girls working the register in my prefecture.

Back home? Sometimes late at night I think the cashier will actually rob me.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I remember seeing an episode of NHK World's Begin Japanology series about convenience stores in Japan and I was just surprised at the variety of goods sold at these stores. As such, I wouldn't be surprised that konbini are (arguably) the largest outlets for those phonebook-thick manga anthologies; be careful the day a new edition of Shueisha's Weekly Shounen Jump is released (people line up at a konbini around 5 am the day the new edition comes out from what I've read).

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Neckties at a convenience store? That's interesting!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The cleverest thing about convenience stores is that they've convinced us that we absolutely need the over-processed, over-packaged garbage that they sell.

-8 ( +6 / -14 )

The cleverest thing about convenience stores is that they've convinced us that we absolutely need the over-processed, over-packaged garbage that they sell.

Except that Japanese konbini sell much higher quality food than Americans are used to. You'll be surprised how many bento lunch boxes are sold at konbinis.

4 ( +9 / -5 )

24 hour condom sellers....saved me many a time.....

2 ( +8 / -6 )

They sell fresh fruit at the combini near my office. I buy fruit there all the time. It's nice as it's a healthy snack and not crap.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

In NYC, we don't need combini. The delis and bodegas are fabulous.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

I needed one last-minute, bought it at a nearby conbini, and 10 years later it’s still the best tie I’ve ever had.

You need to qualify this by explaining that the other two ties you owned were purchased from the Salvation Army.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Those Johnny's / AKB48 / K-pop stajikis - they always put them at the very front of the store!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I was expecting something a little more "unexpected". How about the "adult" section of the magazines. Which nobody is monitoring. I mean, when I was a high school kid in the 90s... well never mind.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

One of the best things about convenience stores (and there are many, since they also provide the services of a post office, bank, ticket seller,deal in prepaid phone credit, bill payment, and neverending supplies of ice cream, and oden for a third of the year) they are customised to their neighbourhood. Where I work there isn't a supermarket or station nearby (well, 10-15 minutes walk), and is is a residential area - the local Circle K convenience store supplies fresh produce like apples, bananas, even uncooked meat which I have noticed is specifically there for the elderly customers who can't get out easily. The Circle K near where I live does not sell all the same items, because it's on a main road near a 15-hour supermarket and 3 other convenience stores.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Cute cashiers. Seriously. It's definitely not all convenience stores but a number of them have the cutest college girls working the register in my prefecture.

It's nice to see cute girls working in a convenience store in Japan. The pressure on them to enter the world of 'mizushoubai' is huge; credit to them for not going down that path!

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

I would find them fantastic if they had Slurpees at reasonable prices.

I would also find them more convenient, if they had a separate cue for the little old lady that pulls out 5-7 monthly bills to pay, and does not have enough money with her to pay them off, AFTER they are all in the register computer.

One other thing not conbini....please do not hand me my bag of goods before you give me my change with big bills first, small change next, the bag of goodies, and THEN my receipt so I can drop it in the bag.

Also, please make the drink cases colder. Warm beer does not cut it with me.

Other than that, no comparison to other conbini around the world. Japanese rock.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

Another unexpected thing is that at least here in Shinjuku, most of the clerks are Chinese, Korean, Indian, etc., rather than Japanese. Their Japanese is really good, which to be honest, was unexpected by me. But I know better now.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Conbini are nice but a bit overpriced. Where I live I have a supermarket open 24/7. There's also Lawson 100, cheap conbini nearby and they are better than conventional conbini for sundry goods or gadget accessory emergencies. So conbini for me is mainly for ATM. I like Taiwan's version of 7/11 which usually comes with its counter-chair section for eating and taking a breather. Surprise item... sorry, can't really contribute.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Japanese convenient stores are perfect for a good snack!I like Sunkus cos got a resting and drinking/eating space.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The new trend of adding a place to sit and eat your bento and coffee is great.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@gabrial888 - Quite a few new stores have a seating section, at least a counter, and sometimes tables. Look around and you'll see them!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Maria - Maybe your area has more. In my area, it's still a rarity. I know only one in about 3km radius excerpt for Ministop which has always had the seating section. Hopefully it'll catch on. On a separate note, a surprise item I wish to have in Conbini - meat pie sold in Australian convenient stores. Every now and then I get an urge for it with tomato sauce injection.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why is it weird to buy flowers in a conbini, or a DVD? Petrol stations in the UK sell flowers, DVDs and CDs, barbeque fuel and assorted other nonsense.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Mini Stop is great with their places to sit and eat, wish they had more branches, though other Konbini are starting to copy their chair area

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Except that Japanese konbini sell much higher quality food than Americans are used to. You'll be surprised how many bento lunch boxes are sold at konbinis.

I LOLED all the bro outta myself.

Japan conbini store food is not fit for human consumption. It is processed, synthetic poison that is appropriate for taxidermy purposes and for caulking.

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

I would also find them more convenient, if they had a separate cue for the little old lady that pulls out 5-7 monthly bills to pay, and does not have enough money with her to pay them off, AFTER they are all in the register computer.

(笑) I know exactly whatchya mean! Especially at lunch time! OMG!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Neckties at a convenience store? That's interesting!

Think that's interesting? You can also buy underwear at conbinis in Japan too.

Japan conbini store food is not fit for human consumption. It is processed, synthetic poison that is appropriate for taxidermy purposes and for caulking.

Exaggerate much?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Raymond Chung: "Except that Japanese konbini sell much higher quality food than Americans are used to. You'll be surprised how many bento lunch boxes are sold at konbinis."

Higher quality food than Americans are used to? I think you can argue that the bentos in Japanese stores are higher quality, if American shops even have them (most don't), but you would be fooling yourself if you honestly believed Americans in general don't know what quality food is. Second, you're also fooling yourself if you believe bentos sold at convenience stores are 'quality' food, period. Even if better than in other nations, and that's debatable, they are still VERY unhealthy. You're only SLIGHTLY better off eating a conbini bento than you are instant noodles; they are both chalk full of salt, preservatives, low-grade products, etc.

That said, they are easy, readily available, and indeed convenient if you HAVE to fall back on something, and since the article is about convenience stores in general I think you CAN safely say, Raymond, that Japanese convenience stores redefine the word, and offer the widest variety of items of nations that boast such stores. They are amazing.

-2 ( +1 / -2 )

Best thing for me as a visitor is that the Seven&I conbini have ATMs that accept my credit card and I can get cash whenever I need it. Life saver a couple of times.

I also like that combini of all brands have an eye-popping array of rice products. From crackers to full meals and everything in between.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In my last trip to Japan, there was a Konbini opposite the hotel I was staying... It was so nice to find everything on such short notice, form toiletries to snacks, and bento lunches, what surprised me most was they sold Shirts (white shirts) and underwear and I realized that it was very convenient because if you have and "accident" in your lunchbreak (like, sauce on your shirt) you could buy another one for the afternoon work, ties or neckties and pantyhose are in the same line, but underwear it is more difficult to imagine people buying them (at least not frequently)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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