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Bayside’s new Banzai 99¢ brims with bargains

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Japan’s answer to the American 99-cent store has come to Bayside with Banzai 99¢ Plus, a gleaming emporium of Japanese household items unlike any seen at the average five-and-dime.

The concept is based on Japan’s popular 100-yen stores, said Sun Kim, whose mother, Young Mi Kim, opened the Bell Boulevard variety store in January on the site of the old Ben’s Hardware.

The difference between the new store and other 99-cent shops is that Banzai 99¢ Plus offers high-quality items in a clean, pleasant environment, Kim said.

“It looks so different because the merchandise is higher quality and still at a great price,” Kim said. “It’s a fun environment while you shop.”

The store carries mostly Japanese housewares, including a staggering selection of dishes and plastic containers from floor to ceiling, including sushi cups, bowls, stainless steel flatware, potholders and hangers.

The plastic containers of every shape, size and color are neatly arranged on shelves around the brightly lit store and are even stacked like skyscraper scale models in the back.

Asian vases, party supplies, makeup, Japanese snacks and Hello Kitty tape dispensers and hand mirrors can be found.

The last-minute items at the register provide endless fascination, especially the 99-cent facials, offered in individual packets in apricot, cucumber and charcoal formulas.

The store also carries merchandise from Korea and China and is also planning to stock European items, Kim said.

“We opened the door to a lot of different communities,” Kim said. “It’s not just Asian-oriented anymore.”

There are already two Banzai stores in Flushing, one in Woodside and one in Elmhurst, with new locations set to open in Kew Gardens. Kim said the company was the first to bring the 100-yen concept to the East Coast.

“We realized that this merchandise is suitable for all types of customers,” Kim said.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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