Japanese snack, toy store to open on Telegraph Avenue

Tim Hyon/Staff

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A new Japanese snack and toy store will open on Telegraph Avenue next week, according to the store’s staff.

J-Town Express, which sells everything from Japanese drinks and snacks to plush anime toys and stationery, will be moving from its previous location in the Sun Valley Mall in Concord, California, which closed in recent months.

“It’ll be nice to buy different types of snacks near the units not sold in Bear Market or Walgreens,” said campus freshman Julia Lee.

J-Town Express will fill the building formerly occupied by 2bella Boutique, an high-end women’s clothing store that closed in October a year and a half after it first opened.

Since opening in 2014, 2bella had trouble gaining traction with the clientele of Telegraph Avenue partly because of its high prices.

Carola Summers, co-owner of 2bella previously said she thinks the reason for low sales is college budgets, because that’s what she hears “pretty much every day.”

The store will be opening up the street from Daiso Japan, a discount snack and goods store with 3,660 locations worldwide. It first opened its Berkeley location in spring 2011.

Daiso has become a favorite spot with campus students for its cheap prices on goods that range from snacks and school supplies to housewares and decorations.

Jasmine Barahona, the store leader of Daiso’s Berkeley location, said she was not worried that the new store would take away from Daiso’s business, despite selling similar products.

“We have loyal clientele,” Barahona said.

Telegraph Avenue stores have undergone massive turnover in the past few years, including the closing of both Andronico’s Community Markets and Larry Blake’s Restaurant and Bar in 2011, with the latter shutting down after 71 years of service.

More recently, the rising price of rent on Telegraph Avenue has caused several businesses currently in the area to consider moving from their Telegraph Avenue locations, including Crepes A-Go-Go and Shiekh Shoes.

Telegraph Avenue has been a prime spot for businesses in Berkeley because of the heavy pedestrian traffic of campus students and has been the focus of community and business development proposals in the past year.

The proposals, pushed by members of the Telegraph Business Improvement District, aim to make the area more pedestrian-friendly and boost the productivity of surrounding businesses.

There have also been several housing projects that have been approved by the city’s Zoning Adjustments Board with the hope that the additional residents may add to the consumer base that could improve the Telegraph Avenue economy.

“The rent is high. (This makes store owners) move and not want to come,” said Abayomi K, the store manager of Shiekh Shoes. “But (J-Town) must be satisfied since they’re opening a location.”


Haruka Senju covers city government. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @haruka_senju