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Minimarkets enliven Taiwanese life

Most of convenience stores in Taiwan provide dining tables and chairs, allowing customers to sit and enjoy their meals for 24 hours. (Vivian Cheng)

Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – For Taiwanese, minimarkets are not merely places to buy daily goods, but also have become part of their lives as almost all life supplies are obtained from these stores.

Hence, the density of minimarkets on the Formosa Island is among the highest in the world.

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Data from the Taipei Economic and Trade Office (TETO) received by Indonesia Window here on Saturday, stated that there are 11,429 minimarkets in the Island.

This number is the second largest in the world, after that in South Korea, and expected to continue growing every year.

There are so many minimarkets on the 36,193 square kilometer island, that you can find them anywhere, from along roads and alleys in big cities to rural areas at an altitude of 2,000 meters above the sea level.

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The owners of minimarkets with different names do not hesitate to be side by side with one another.

Therefore, each minimarket has its own way of luring people to shop at their place. This is common as Taiwanese people really like convenience stores.

The statement mentioned that minimarkets on the island have clean and bright shopping environments, making consumers immediately feel comfortable from the moment they enter the stores.

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Although the convenience stores are “just” relatively small-scale shops, their products are quite complete, and they are rapidly changed to fit Taiwanese characteristics that wish for innovation and variation.

The cold drink area in a convenience store has new products on the shelves within almost every month. People even visit a store just to try new drinks or snacks.

Besides foods and beverages, minimarkets also sell cleaning products, stationery, medicines, toys, newspapers, magazines, and others.

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If there is no demand for a special brand, a minimarket is enough to fulfil the locals’ daily needs.

In order to attract people’s interest, Taiwanese convenience stores combine famous festivals and merchants to launch special products, such as five-star restaurant dishes during the Chinese New Year, chocolate gifts on the Valentine’s Day, bakcang (meat-filled rice wrapped in pyramid-shaped leaves) during the Dragon Boat Festival, and mooncake boxes on the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The exterior and interior of the stores are often decorated referring to the ongoing festivals so that customers also feel the excitement of the events.

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Taiwanese convenience stores are also right places to enjoy fast food products.

Usually, in every convenience store, there is always a hotpot filled with tea eggs and a microwave for heating hot dogs, roasted sweet potatoes, various kinds of oden (soup containing eggs, fish, tofu, etc.), and all kinds of buns.

Taiwanese convenience stores also offer a variety of bento (Japanese dishes containing rice and side dishes), chicken rice, spaghetti, and beef noodles, which one only needs to heat them up in a microwave for a few minutes before they are ready to be enjoyed in a breakfast, lunch or dinner time.

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With the availability of food and beverage menus, most of convenience stores in Taiwan provide dining tables and chairs, allowing customers to sit and enjoy their meals for 24 hours.

To attract more people to visit their minimarkets, Taiwanese businessmen offer various promotions.

In the summer, for example, visitors can buy a second drink for only 1 new Taiwan dollar, or buy two cans of drinks and take a draw at the cashier which prizes a discount of 20 percent to 90 percent of the total payment.

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Convenience stores also launch limited edition product themes, such as ice cream cones with fresh Hokkaido milk flavour and Shizuoka matcha flavour in limited quantities, thus creating a long queue.

Free prizes based on accumulated shopping points are also available at convenience stores in Taiwan.

For example, for every 40 new Taiwan dollars, a customer gets a sticker worth one point. The points accumulated in a certain amount can be exchanged for miniature racing cars, mugs, or bags with popular cartoon characters on them.

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Many parents or grandparents become loyal customers of convenience stores just to help their children and grandchildren collect points and get prizes.

Minimarkets enliven Taiwanese life
Taiwanese convenience stores also offer a variety of bento (Japanese dishes containing rice and side dishes), chicken rice, spaghetti, and beef noodles, which one only needs to heat them up in a microwave for a few minutes before they are ready to be enjoyed in a breakfast, lunch or dinner time. (Morris C)

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Apart from goods, Taiwan convenience stores also provide package delivery services from sellers to buyers so that they can arrange the most convenient time to pick up the shipment.

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A Taiwanese minimarket also provides services for other than common products, such as a beauty area, a gymnasium, an on-site bakery area, and a bookstore.

In fact, there is a minimarket that has a reading area for children where its employees tell stories to children of their customers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, minimarkets are increasingly close  to the lives of the Taiwanese people as they can buy health masks recommended by the government in these stores.

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Reporting by Indonesia Window

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