- The Washington Times - Friday, November 5, 2021

A rapidly growing, low-cost Chinese retailer is set to open two stores in Maryland on Saturday, hoping to attract young adults looking for inexpensive goods.

The new Miniso stores in Bethesda and Columbia will feature products under $10 as dollar stores struggle with rising inflation.

Andrew Xie, the North American general manager of Miniso, said the stores are well-timed to attract “hard-working young adults” who “will accept a higher range of acceptable affordability in exchange for an enhanced product experience.”

“It is the perfect market opportunity to introduce the ‘10 N’ Under’ concept to our rapidly expanding Miniso stores in North America. The $10 store is the future of Gen Z shopping,” he said. 

The retailer launched its $10 concept last month with stores in Tysons Corner in Northern Virginia and in California. The company, which arrived in the U.S. on the West Coast in April 2017, also plans to open 15 stores “from coast to coast” within the next two months. 

In an April 6 article for Inside Retail, retail analyst Philip Wiggenraad said Miniso has experienced “explosive growth,” leveraging a digital strategy to open more than 4,500 stores worldwide in the eight years of its existence. 

The chain’s expansion comes as dollar stores scramble to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic while offering fewer and fewer items for $1 as inflation rises.

Dollar General recently said it will have to raise the prices of many items above $1 for the first time.

While Miniso might be targeting dollar stores’ thrifty customers, the upstart has a way to go to reach the sales raked in by Dollar General, Dollar Tree and its subsidiary, Family Dollar.

Dollar Tree’s revenue of $25.5 billion in fiscal 2021 dwarfs Miniso Group’s $9 billion, for example.

Dollar Tree did see a 22% drop in net income, to $1.3 billion, during the height of the pandemic, but it is fighting back with new ways to serve its customers.

Dollar Tree said this week that Instacart will offer same-day delivery within an hour from 7,000 stores, expanding an arrangement already existing in 6,000 Family Dollar stores nationwide.

“We’re excited to extend the reach of these leading retailers and bring their incredible selection of discounted goods to more households nationwide,” Carolyn Everson, president of Instacart, said in a statement.

In addition to new services, the dollar chains are expanding both in terms of number of locations and the products they sell.

Miniso, for its part, also has to overcome criticism that it has pretended to be a Japanese company since opening its first store in China in 2013.

The company claims to have been co-founded by a Japanese designer who may or may not exist, according to media reports in China and Japan.

It describes itself online as a “Japanese-inspired lifestyle product retailer,” disguising its origins in a mainland Chinese holding company.

The stores sell home décor and organizers, beauty and wellness items, fashion accessories, stuffed animals and electronics. The company has licensing agreements to sell Marvel, Mickey Mouse & Friends, Sanrio, We Bare Bears and Coca-Cola products.

The stores opening Saturday are in the Mall at Columbia and Westfield Montgomery in Bethesda.

• Sean Salai can be reached at ssalai@washingtontimes.com.

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