Coincidentally, about a month ago when I was in Toulouse I stumbled upon a Hema store so I had a taste for what was to come in Lyon. It’s one of those stores where I go inside and get lost as I’m faced with indecision about what to buy… because I want everything! but do I really need it?
I have two ways to describe Hema:
- European Daiso
- Ikea without the furniture
What do I mean by that? Most Europeans probably don’t know what Daiso is. Daiso is a Japanese discount store (well actually it’s a wonderland) that sells a variety of cute household items at dirt cheap prices. You can see the store locations here (there isn’t a single one on the whole continent of Europe!) and you can see what they sell here. Well, as my family are from Taiwan and Taiwan is only next door to Japan, I grew up with cute kawaii stuff like this. However, back in the days of my childhood, this kind of stuff did not exist in Australia yet… but these days, it’s everywhere and Daiso recently opened stores in Australia too. When I went back in August I had to have a look. I couldn’t leave the store! I went to both the stores in Broadway and and Parramatta (in Sydney) and both are huge. When I went to Taipei, Taiwan after I left Sydney I stumbled upon one by accident and had to go again (they had even more stuff and at cheaper prices!).
I know this is not a blogpost about Daiso but I need to write a bit about it because… growing up with Asian culture and living in Australia, I’m now very used to what we call $2 stores… however these stores don’t really exist much in France or Switzerland. They exist in Spain though but that’s another blogpost.
When people ask me what I miss about Australia… well, one of the things are $2 stores! Yes, I know we have a 2€ store here in Lyon and in most cities of France but it’s not the same. In Sydney we have these stores everywhere and they sell more than just curtains (I don’t know why but every time I found a bargain store in Geneva or Lyon they always seemed dedicate half the store to curtain supplies).
So finally I have a store to satisfy my buying cheap household stuff cravings. Welcome HEMA! Like I said, I went there a month ago in Toulouse. Actually, I confess, I actually went there twice because I fell in love with it and I also had a strange sense of déjà vu that I had already been in some other European city (I forgot which), or maybe I was getting it mixed up with the Spanish store Ale Hop.
So why do I compare Hema to Daiso? Well they both sell kitchenware, stationery, basic clothing items, accessories, makeup, snacks… mostly with a cutesy design feature, and at bargain basement prices. I also do feel that the items sold in both stores are of a higher quality than in $2/2€ stores.
I should probably mention now that Hema is Dutch, is an abbreviation of Hollandsche Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam (“Hollandic Standard Prices Company Amsterdam”) and was actually founded in 1926. What they were selling back then, who knows?
Since the Netherlands is so close to Scandinavia and they have similar design aesthetics, the design of the products is quite Scandinavian-looking to me, hence the comparison with Ikea. You know when you go into Ikea and end up buying a whole bunch of stuff you didn’t think you needed? (I mean small household stuff, I’m not talking about furniture).. well the same thing happens in Hema! All that stationery, kitchenware and food that you find in Ikea is similar to what you find in Hema. OK so the food in Ikea is more Swedish and the food in Hema is more Dutch, but you get my point… and speaking about food, I’m in love with Stroopwafels. Ever since I discovered them during my first trip to the Netherlands in 2004 I have been looking for them in supermarkets. I don’t even have a particularly sweet tooth but I love the yumminess that is Stroopwafels, 2 thin waffles with a layer of caramel sandwiched inside… mmmm… Of course I had to buy a packet.
So, what else can I tell you about the store? It’s located on Rue de la République (the main shopping street of Lyon) in the beautiful 2nd arrondissement, right next to the big carousel and fountain (ie prime real estate!). For that reason alone it’s better than Ikea because Ikea is far, technically not even located in Lyon. It’s in Saint Priest and it takes me half a day to get there and back on public transport.
The store is kind of long and narrow and over two storeys. It sells pretty much the exact same things that I found in their Toulouse store a month ago except many things were already sold out (and this is only the third day)! I wanted to buy the mini gingerbread men (that I bought in Toulouse) but they were sold out. I was told by the guy at the cashier I could buy it online and then pick it up in store but I can’t find it online either 🙁 He did say that they get new deliveries at least once a week though.
I like that the store doesn’t just sell cute or pretty stuff. It sells useful stuff too like batteries, lightbulbs, reading glasses, socks…
I noticed the clientele was different to Primark too. Over there I saw mainly 16-25 year old girls (shopping in groups) or mothers with prams, but here at Hema Lyon I saw mostly working professional women from their 20s up to their 60s, and most were shopping alone. I did not see many men 😀
The prices are all very reasonable. Most things are around 1-5 Euros each and there are a lot of Christmas stuff for those who still need it!
Here are a ton of photos I took (note most of the cute stationery was already sold out when I went which is why I don’t have many photos of it).
53 Rue République , Lyon, 63002 France