My former boss used to tell me “He who laughs at a penny, cries for a penny” which would have been one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard if only we weren’t discussing about my salary increase… Jokes aside, who doesn’t appreciate a good bargain? I know I do especially considering all the added expenditures going on. Luckily, there are some hidden (and not so hidden) super savers on the island that will really give your wallet a much needed break. Here are some of the best places to strike a good bargain.

If I need to explain to you what a 100 yen shop is, allow me to congratulate you on all your successful wealth, Mr. Richie Von McMoneybags. For the rest of us, a 100 yen shop/dollar store/poundland – whatever you may be familiar with – is basically a single coin general store that offers great quality products at very affordable prices. Among them, Daiso is probably the one to beat on the island. They offer anything and everything from a dress shirt to charcoal grill sets. Heck, last time I was there I found a rice cooker! Lately however they have been slightly increasing the prices for some items that just can’t cut it on a 100 yen budget. Not to fear, most are still very reasonably priced at around 500 yen. Daiso shops are scattered all over the island but the biggest one that I am aware of is at Ginowan. Definitely worth checking out.

Union Supermarket
Ever decided to make pancakes at 3am in the morning? How about delicatessen chicken katsu at 1am while binge watching your favorite TV show? Luckily, Okinawa has Union supermarkets which not only offers great slashes on prices but also has the benefit of being open 24 hours a day. I have to say though the after 2am customers are a bit more fashionably “nonchalant” than what I see during the day. All I can say is Okinawans have some pretty Interesting pyjama designs. No complaints from me. I think It’s an absolute hoot! Almost like an impromptu slumber party. Maybe next time I will wear my Boba Fett pyjamas while I look for pickle relish for my movie snack hotdogs.

Big 1
Get ready for the BIG ONE! Not to be confused with San-A who shares the same logo colors, Big 1 is the OG in discounted variety goods. Selling everything from alarm clocks, shampoos, pet food, swimming floats, light bulbs, power drills, etc., Big 1 really embodies the true meaning of variety store. Not only is pretty much everything reasonably priced but Big 1 has been through the test of time. Open since, well, a very long time ago! How they stay in business with those prices I will never know. If you want good savings and a place to buy multiple odd items at once, this is the place for you!

Gyōmu Sūpā
Literally meaning business supermarket, Gyōmu Sūpā offers just that. Whether you need 5 or 50 servings, Gyōmu Sūpā has got you covered. Here you can buy items in bulk and it’s actually cheaper that way. Buy in bulk to save money? Is anyone aware of this secret?! (Insert sarcastic GIF here.) Think of it as the Costco of Okinawa without the membership requirement or the monstrosity store size. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t still just buy groceries like you normally would. They still offer some pretty decent savings for regular purchases. I guess I would say this place is Ideal to shop for when you have an office beach party function and you want a big ol’ plate of saucy yakisoba or maybe gathering with your buddies at home for a superbowl BBQ!

“Don Don Don, Donqui, Donqui-xote”. Ahhh yes, I have successfully achieved inception. Now that song will play in your head all day. In reality, this song is actually played on a loop as you enter the variety/grocery store, Donquixote. First of all, it’s HUGE! Since they combined the selling of miscellaneous stuff and food, the place is gianormous. As if that wasn’t enough, some corporate pencil pusher decided they also have to have one on steroids called the Mega Donquixote.

So big that there used to be an actual mechanical bull in the middle of the store! What in tarnations is going on? Donqui offers good savings but also sells some unique items that can’t be found elsewhere. For example, a double decker toaster with egg frying hot pan on top, a coin bank that also counts the currency, pre-marinated Texas style BBQ ribs, and the likes. It’s also open until pretty late (if not 24 hours) so it’s definitely one of my favorite places to just chill.
Bottom line, with all the added expenses for masks and disinfectant, buckle down, stay safe, find what works for you, and let’s go step up those savings!

Budget, Bargain, and Beyond! - The Ultimate Guide For Okinawa Thrifting