Great Stores?
November 30, 2004 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Great Stores? Sometimes a brick and mortar store is worth a visit, even though I do most of my shopping online. I'm looking for great CHAIN stores -- stores with more than one location -- that offer wonderful merchandise with a fabulous retail interface. A friend was recommending Muji, a sort of Japanese Ikea, with stores in Japan, Europe and NYC. In California, we have this over-the-top Asian import food bonanza called Ranch 99, which I have to visit every now and then. Can you recommend other global or national stores that are worth a visit?
posted by kk to Shopping (33 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's got to be said: Apple Retail Stores.
posted by chrismear at 10:36 AM on November 30, 2004

Trader Joes for groceries. And you mentioned it previously, but IKEA is pretty damn fantastic.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:39 AM on November 30, 2004

I love the Giant Robot store in LA, which seems like it's going nationwide/worldwide with all sorts of weird anime stuff.
posted by mathowie at 10:58 AM on November 30, 2004

If you like bathy stuff, Lush is your friend. I spent a long time buying their stuff mail-order, but their Chicago store opened this month. I was so there the first day they opened. And it was heavenly.
posted by sugarfish at 11:12 AM on November 30, 2004

There's a Muji in NYC?
posted by sad_otter at 11:16 AM on November 30, 2004

popeye's. make you sure you get a biscuit.
posted by lotsofno at 11:17 AM on November 30, 2004

As far as chain candy stores go, Aji Ichiban is hard to beat. The dried squid flakes take some getting used to, but the lychee gummies are unstoppable.
posted by saladin at 11:20 AM on November 30, 2004

Oh Lush! I forgot they finally opened a Portland store.
posted by mathowie at 11:25 AM on November 30, 2004

That Muji looks pretty cool. Can somebody point me to the mythical NYC store? I can't find it on their site.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:27 AM on November 30, 2004

Also Mitsuwa Marketplaces in CA, IL and NJ.
posted by stuartmm at 11:32 AM on November 30, 2004

UNIQLO has a store (stores?) in London.
posted by carter at 11:44 AM on November 30, 2004

Maybe its passe already in other places but I always have a great time when I shop at Urban Outfitters. And I loudly second the Trader Joe's suggestion above.
posted by fenriq at 11:47 AM on November 30, 2004

I've found the Magnolia Audio Video chain to be a pretty good retail experience, although they now appear to be in cahoots with mass merchandising scoundrels Best Buy, so who knows how long that'll last.

A trip to Fry's is always an experience, but because of their (illegal) habit of re-shrinkwrapping defective returns and selling them as new, you're taking something of a chance with them. It's a roll of the retail dice!

I've developed something of an inexplicable fondness for chain restaurant Mary's Pizza Shack, but they seem to be regional, covering a small patch of northern California.

Similarly, Abby's Pizza is an interesting dining experience: for a flat fee you can purchase access to a "food bar," and pile up your plate. I've only seen Abby's in Oregon, but apparently they're larger than that.
posted by majick at 11:47 AM on November 30, 2004

tel. 1-646-613-1367

A list of their overseas stores is here. They also do camp sites. Why they make it difficult to navigate their site in English I don't know.
posted by biffa at 11:51 AM on November 30, 2004

If you like disposable, nice-looking clothes, H&M is a fun store. In the U.S., they are along the east coast and in Chicago.

It's sort of like Old Navy's more stylish sister. There's some good, cheap stuff there: men's, women's, kids, underpants, something for everyone.

It's also fun because (like Old Navy) there's some god-awful stuff mixed in.
posted by AgentRocket at 11:55 AM on November 30, 2004

I've heard you can get some excellent deals at a little chain store some people call "Wal Mart"

Bristol Farms is a CA gourmet supermarket chain, but I don't recommend them--except for their hot/pre-packaged foods, which are awesome. Otherwise, stick to Trader Joe's.
posted by LimePi at 1:08 PM on November 30, 2004

Thanks, all. On the Mitsuwa suggestion, can you give me a hint of what they sell stuartmm? Because their website utterly refuses to disclose any clue about their stuff.

Fry's is a great suggestion. I didn't know they were a chain; I've only been to the mother ship.
posted by kk at 1:45 PM on November 30, 2004

kk, Mitsuwa is an Asian (specifically Japanese) supermarket. HELLO POCKY
posted by LimePi at 1:47 PM on November 30, 2004

the Magnolia Audio Video chain ... now appear to be in cahoots with mass merchandising scoundrels Best Buy

Definitely in cahoots: in December 2000, Magnolia Audio Video was acquired by Best Buy
posted by WestCoaster at 2:18 PM on November 30, 2004

Logan's Roadhouse is a country-western version of Chuck E. Cheese, but they have the best-tasting peanuts. (In keeping with the honky-tonk atmosphere, you can even throw the shells on the floor!)

I'll also toss in Stu Leonard's, since jonmc hasn't joined the thread yet.

Fiesta Mart is Texas' answer to Ranch 99 and Stu Leonard's.

Speaking of Texas, Shipley Do-Nuts puts Krispy Kreme to shame. James Original Coney Island has great hot dogs, in spite of being in Dixie. One shouldn't forget Whattaburger, either. You may recognise the logo from a couple episodes of King of the Hill; it's an actual place, and the food is quite tasty.

If you're headed east, and need to stop at a convenience store, you gotta havea WaWa.

If you're ever in Canada, be sure to add a new catchphrase to your vocabulary: TIMMIES!
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:38 PM on November 30, 2004

Hm. I have to say that there is nothing in any way appealing about any Wawa I've ever been to. What's the excitement about?
posted by redfoxtail at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2004

Anything in Utah or Nevada?
posted by mecran01 at 3:18 PM on November 30, 2004

The MUJI in the MOMA Design Store is downstairs in the far corner. It's mostly little metal items like nail files and makeup brushes, and medium-sized plastic items like file folder boxes and photo albums. It's small, but considerably more stuff than the one table they had previously.
posted by hsoltz at 3:20 PM on November 30, 2004

kk, go on a geek pilgrimage to all the Fry's. Every Fry's has a theme in the store (at least the California ones all do). In the bay area, there's a western one, an egyptian one, I think a future one. Down in SoCal are the real gems: a tiki Fry's, an Alice in Wonderland Fry's, and a Space Shuttle theme.

Of course, you could google around and find some geek's site that already posted photos of all the Fry's years ago, but you haven't lived until you've shopped in the tiki Fry's. It's just bizarre.
posted by mathowie at 4:05 PM on November 30, 2004

99 Ranch Market is nuts. I think there are two of them in Irvine.

Since some people have already mentioned restaurants I'll propose In'n'Out, Wahoo's Fish Tacos, and Harold's Chicken Shack.
posted by kenko at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2004

Down in SoCal are the real gems: a tiki Fry's, an Alice in Wonderland Fry's, and a Space Shuttle theme.

Huh. Leave it to San Diego to get stuck with the "tilt-up concrete warehouse" themed Fry's.
posted by LionIndex at 4:13 PM on November 30, 2004

kk, you are right the website is a bit sparse. All sorts of japanese food, fresh fish ( sometimes a bit too fresh ) , fruit, alcohol, food market.
mmm this page to the chicago store shows pictures of the inside of one.

Oh, and can i put a vote in for hating Frys . The only place i have ever felt like puching every employee.
posted by stuartmm at 4:13 PM on November 30, 2004

Oops , you may want to try the english version of the page before.
posted by stuartmm at 4:17 PM on November 30, 2004

American Apparel just opened two stores in San Francisco. They sell comfy, well-made t-shirts and sweatshirts manufactured in L.A. A true 21st-century retailer.
posted by JDC8 at 6:31 PM on November 30, 2004

Stew Leonard's is indeed amazing. Animatronic dairy products! A petting zoo! Its own dairy in-house!

And I'll second Fiesta Mart and James Coney Island in Houston, as well.

Seattle has the amazing Uwajimaya (mammoth Asian grocery store), as well as the one-of-a-kind (i.e., non-chain, but great) Elliott Bay Book Company and Archie McPhee's.

And the always-cool American Science & Surplus has retail stores in Chicago and Milwaukee. I've been to the Milwaukee store a buncha times, and I always walk out with things I either a.) never knew I needed, or b.) didn't need, but figured I should get anyway.
posted by Vidiot at 7:22 PM on November 30, 2004

Oh, how could I have forgotten to mention Whole Foods (also known as "Whole Paycheck")? It's indescribably hard to escape WF without dropping a couple of hundred bucks.
posted by majick at 8:15 PM on November 30, 2004

Thanks, Vidiot for the hunk of suggestions. I'd like to visit Stew Lenoard's someday.
posted by kk at 12:21 AM on December 1, 2004

I like Tokyu Hands with stores throughout Japan (and online). My favorite branch is the Shibuya branch with its strange floorplan -- 3 buildings appear to have been opened up into one and their floors didn't line up. They sell lumber (big enough for house building), cellphone mascots, underwear, lamps, stationary, suitcases, dental care products and lots of other things (many of the small things make good souvenirs). And for the curious they have a list of popular items. (All links are in Japanese with pictures and small bits in English.)
posted by kbibb at 2:27 PM on December 1, 2004

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