When is a branch of Costco not a branch of Costco? When it’s a Dodosuco.

Our Japanese reporter Ikuna Kamezawa has something to get off her chest.

She’s never been to Costco.

It’s not that she doesn’t want to, but there are only thirty branches of Costco throughout Japan, and for people who don’t have a car, like Ikuna, they’re a little awkward to get to. There are a few branches within train distance from Ikuna’s Tokyo home, but one doesn’t just go to Costco for a light shop, and she didn’t fancy getting on a train with her Costco haul. The cost of renting a car, plus the annual membership fee, ends up being a little tough for a single person living by themselves to foot.

So what if, instead of checking out a Tokyo branch of Costco, she swung by one on the way home from visiting her parents in her home prefecture of Tottori?

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a Costco in Tottori, but there appeared to be one in neighbouring prefecture Okayama, so Ikuna borrowed her parents’ car and made her way to Okayama Station. The directions took her twenty minutes south of Okayama Station, where she was instructed to drive down a narrow street past a ramen shop.

At this point, Ikuna parked her car and decided to make the rest of her Costco pilgrimage by foot.

The more she walked, the more she began to doubt — was there really a Costco in such a middle-of-nowhere place like this?

But then she saw it, up ahead, glimmering like a beautiful oasis in a hot desert. Her first ever Costco was in sight; the blue-and-red colour scheme instantly recognisable, even from a distance!

▼ She had arrived at Costco!!

…. or so she thought, as upon closer look she seemed to have arrived at a store called ‘Dodosuco‘ instead.

This… was very much not a branch of Costco, and Ikuna began to see her bulk-buy dreams come tumbling down around her. But since she’d come all the way here, it couldn’t hurt to have a peek inside and see what Dodosuco were selling.

As she approached the entrance, she spotted a familiar sight — Costco’s famous toilet paper. The sheer amount that was contained in one ‘pack’ of toilet roll, especially compared to normal Japanese sized products, was pretty intense and Ikuna started to feel like she was at a real Costco.

The inside of the store was pretty intense, too, as it was jam-packed full of Costco products! 

▼ The shelves were overflowing with sauces and condiments!

▼ The freezer was full to the brim with various frozen goods!

▼ Candy and chocolate that’s sometimes difficult to find in Japan all over the place!

Everywhere Ikuna looked, there were products usually sold at Costco adorning the shelves. This was essentially a fake Costco… but how were they getting away with it? Even though they were tucked away in the middle of nowhere in Okayama, this is the age of the Internet and stuff like this spreads quickly. How had Costco not come and shut this place down?

Ikuna decided to put on her investigative glasses and interview the owner of Dodosuco, Mr. Kamiyama. Was he running some sort of illegal counterfeit Costco business?!

Ikuna: So, is Dodosuco just a fake rip-off version of Costco?

Mr. Kamiyama: Not at all! We’re actually a shop that resells Costco products.

Ikuna: Resells…?

Mr. Kamiyama: Yes, Costco allows anyone to resell their products. It’s also called ‘on-selling’.

Ikuna: Oh, really? My apologies!

Come to think of it, Ikuna had seen a couple of her local supermarkets holding ‘Costco fairs’ where they sell a select number of Costco products, but she didn’t really think about it too much at the time. But it was good to know that Costco themselves were completely fine with other stores buying and reselling their products, and Dodosuco was in no danger of facing the wrath of Costco’s legal team!

But now that the idea of Dodosuco being some sort of sneaky, illicit Costco copy had been put to bed, Ikuna was curious about another issue; Dodosuco is, especially compared to an actual branch of Costco, pretty small. It was the same size as a regular convenience store, so no matter how much they try and cram onto their shelves, they’re only able to sell a small percentage of the number of products available at Costco. So how do they choose which products to resell?

Mr Kamiyama: What we have here are all Costco’s popular products. As you know, Costco is really famous in Japan for their kitchen paper. Then there’s toilet paper, Oikos Greek yoghurt, and then of course there’s Gresila…

Ikuna: Ah…. sorry, but I’ve actually never been to Costco, so I’m not really familiar with all of these…

Mr Kamiyama: I see… Gresilla is red grapefruit in syrup, which is a very popular sweet at Costco Japan. We sell Lindt chocolate here too, which is also really popular. There is a Lindt store in Okayama, but if you buy it there, it costs about 100 yen (US$0.80) per piece. At Costco, it’s less than half the price, so we regularly stock Lindt here too.

Ikuna: I see! So you only sell the most popular products here?

Mr. Kamiyama: That’s right! We’ll sell anything, though. We go to Costco every Friday to stock up, and if our customers have anything they want us to buy for them, we get that too.

Ikuna: Anything at all?

Mr. Kamiyama: Anything! We usually resell anything we buy 15 to 25 percent more expensive than its original Costco price, but when you factor in the transportation costs and time required to go to Costco, it’s still a pretty good deal.

▼ Oikos yoghurt and red grapefruit in syrup are very popular at Costco Japan

Considering there are also no membership fees to shop there, Dodosuco seems like the perfect place for people unfamiliar with Costco, or for those who don’t live close to a Costco. You can get access to all the most popular products in one place, and Ikuna began to wonder if there was a Costco reseller in her local neighbourhood back in Tokyo.

There was one last question on Ikuna’s mind that she had to ask before she left, though —

Ikuna: Why did you call this store ‘Dodosuco’?

Mr. Kamiyama: It just had a nice feel to it!

‘Dodosuco’ doesn’t have any real meaning in Japanese, but for anyone who spent time in Japan in the early 2010s, the phrase ‘dodosuco’ will probably make a certain comedian spring to mind —

▼ Tano Shingo was famous for his ‘Love Injection’ skit, that featured him saying ‘dodosuco’ a lot.

Before she left, Ikuna bought a pack of Costco’s famous toilet rolls (2,580 yen [US$20.50] for a pack of 30 rolls) — her first ever Costco product. “This toilet paper is so impressive that Japanese toilet paper looks like a child’s toy in comparison,” Ikuna thought, as she took the 30 rolls back with her to Tokyo.

If you ever find yourself in the Okayama area (and there are plenty of reasons to visit Okayama), be sure to check out Dodosuco and pick up some Costco bargains!

Store information
Dodosuco / ドドスコ
Address: Okayama Prefecture, Okayama City, Minami-ku, 2-5-30 Hamano
Open: 10:00a.m.〜7:00p.m.
Holidays: 3rd Tuesday of every month

Photos: ©SoraNews24
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[ Read in Japanese ]