Did You Know: A Japanese Five and Dime Once Existed

September 27, 2023
Written by
Don Vidler
japanese five and dime store

No matter how old you get, the concept and experience of a five and dime store is always fun, and every time different! What do we mean by different?

Every five and dime store has its own spin on the specialty of selling a variety of items and goods. The decision is up to the owner and that’s why- here at Vidler's- we’re proud of other five and dime’s success and specialties!

We’re here to tell you an incredible story of a five and dime that was definitely considered “far from home” and exceptionally unique in terms of the items they put on their selves.

DID YOU KNOW: In 1909, there was a five and dime store called Higo Variety Store in Seattle, Washington that sold Japanese goods and items?

Talk about a different experience- it’s an entirely different culture! There’s power behind the experience that a five and dime store can offer. One minute you’re in Seattle– then you take a step in Higo’s Variety and you suddenly get a sense of what it would be like to live in Japan! (Talk about a culture shock!)

Why is this old Japanense five and dime story important?

Because it embodied every intention that all five and dime stores seek to still do today– which is to make an impact, bring people together and provide one-of-a-kind and memorable items and experiences to customers.

Back in the 1930’s, Seattle was known for an area that Japanese Americans would live called Japantown. The Murakami's, a family who lived in this area, decided to open up the Higo Variety Store. Boy, did they make an impact when they did! The select group of people in this “town” were longing for Japanese heritage and that’s exactly what this store accomplished for 75 years. Not only was it a nostalgic, comfortable place to go for Japanese Americans but where many others would also come to shop, adding a unique touch in their households!

The Murakami family persevered against all odds. They kept their shop open for much longer than many would have anticipated- considering it was during World War ll when the Murakami family was forced to close the shop in the midst of the chaos of the outside world after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The dedication this family represented for the people of Japantown is second to none. They did not give up on their willingness to provide all the people of Seattle a look into the Japanese lifestyle. They took on an obligation that wasn’t expected out of them, yet they succeeded at making a major impact on the entire city.

Today, the location of where the store once was is now an art gallery called Kabo at Higo, and of course, it highlights the story of the five and dime shop!

To learn more about the history of this inspirational five and dime store, click here.

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