Convenience Store Showdown, Part 2 - The Verdict!


You might be joining me from the first part of my article (if so - thank you for reading, and if not, you can check out the first part here!) but I'm back with the second half of the convenience store showdown.
In the first article I mentioned that my husband Mike and I thought it would be fun to conduct a bit of a convenience store Olympics, and rank the stores based on certain criteria. The first 5 criteria we went over in the first article were Ticket Services/ATM facilities (7-11 as the winner), Cold Drinks (7-11), Hot Drinks (Lawson), Breads and Pastries (Lawson), and Hot Food (Family Mart).

This time around with the second installment, we have another 5 categories - and the ultimate winner! So without further ado - let's go!
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Ready Meals


The criteria for us in this category was 3 main factors - variety, inventory (how well did they keep the shelves stocked?), and ease of heating and eating.
7-11 had a lot of variety for things you could take home and use for full meals, but not as much in terms of grab and go offerings. Family Mart offered a really good stock of traditional convenience store foods - like kastu-don, soba noodles, onigiri, gyoza and so forth. Lawson's however took the cake here - because they really had a much wider variety of options, including things like Pad Thai, specialty sandwiches, and salads that actually looked hearty enough to make a full meal from (rather than measly side dish salads!) If you're looking for the best place to grab a bite to eat on the go, Lawson's is the best option (and one that we were surprised by - I think we might be grabbing food from there more often!)
Winner: Lawsons.


Booze


This was not even a competition! 7-11 honestly had enough different offerings that you just about feel like you've walked into a liquor store if you're in the right aisle. The had sake, shochu, wine (and quality versions of each, from notable specialty brewers!) and their cold alcohol selection was basically an entire wall of refrigerated cabinets. Family Mart offered a decent sampling of all those items, but nowhere near as much in terms of variety and quantity. Lawson's had basic options only.
Winner: 7-11.

Ice Cream


All three convenience stores were pretty similar in this regard - but again 7-11 had first place in this category. What set them apart was an exclusive 7-11 branded range of individual or multi pack ice cream and popsicle desserts. Lawson's had some good boxed options, but no specialty frozen desserts like the 7-11 parfaits you can see in the picture below. Family Mart didn't have much out of the offerings that you'll see at every convenience store.



Winner: 7-11.

Safety Net Aisle


While each convenience store had basic sundry and stationery items, it was 7-11 and Family Mart that really catered to the season. 7-11 in particular offered items that many travelers would not think of for weather or season-specific occasions (mosquito repellent stickers, hats, fans and the like). 

Winner: 7-11.



Seasonal Items


With seasonal items, we were really referring to two main things - options that are provided by local vendors and food options that have season-specific ingredients. Things that you might see in seasonal offerings are manju, dorayaki, and other Japanese treats. Family Mart had the best variety, with options provided by locals, with Lawsons in second and 7-11 trailing this round.
Winner: Family Mart

Seasonal Japanese snacks - some were locally produced - on the seasonal table at Family Mart!

So to recap - the way we ranked it!
Ticket Services/ATM facilities
1) 7-11
2) Family Mart
3) Lawson
 
Cold Drinks
1) 7-11
2) Lawsons
3) Family Mart
 
Hot Drinks
1) Lawsons
2) Family Mart
3) 7-11

Breads and Pastries
1) Lawsons
2) 7-11
3) Family Mart
 
Hot Food
1) Family Mart
2) Lawsons
3) 7-11
 
Ready Meals
1) Lawsons
2) Family Mart
3) 7-11
 
Booze
1) 7-11
2) Family Mart
3) Lawsons
 
Ice Cream
1) 7-11
2) Lawsons
3) Family Mart
 
Safety Net Aisle
1) 7-11
2) Family Mart
3) Lawsons
 
Seasonal Items
1) Family Mart
2) Lawsons
3) 7-11
 
We decided to give each category 2 points for first place, 1 point for second place, and no points for third...and so for results...

Total points

7-11: 11 points
Lawson: 10 points
Family Mart: 9 points

We were a little surprised! Mike definitely thought that his beloved Family Mart would score higher on the list - but he is pretty partial to hot food, so I can see why he would love them so much (they had a pretty awesome hot food selection). Again, these were just our opinions, based on what was in the stores on the day we visited -- you might have totally different experiences. One thing is for sure though - Japanese Convenience Stores are pretty awesome, no matter which one you head to!

Enjoy Japan, and Happy Travels!


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