Since its opening April 1, Japanese convenience store J Life Mart — located on 231 Thayer St. — has welcomed many eager students and customers to see its offerings. Upon entering, patrons are greeted by colorful shopping baskets to use as they peruse aisle after aisle of Asian snacks and goods.
The shelves are stocked with popular Japanese snacks and other Asian treats, with an entire aisle dedicated to instant ramen brands. The beauty section carries face masks, makeup, hygiene products and more. The store’s fridges contain drinks, teas and sponge cakes, while its freezer holds ice cream and other frozen goods. The store also has a toy and stationery section.
J Life Mart is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 10 a.m to 10 p.m. on weekends.
Store owner Jason Chou also owns two Vivi Bubble Tea locations — one at 224 Thayer St. and the other in the Providence Place Mall. He shared that J Life Mart is a new project that came from his desire to enter the retail space. Chou was inspired by Daiso, a large Japanese discount store franchise, but he wanted to start in a smaller space.
“We focus on snacks first, and a little bit of makeup, some ice cream, desserts and drinks.” Chou said. “Maybe in the future there will be more exciting items.”
According to Chou, the store was named J Life Mart for two reasons: 70% of their products are Japanese and Chou and his business partner both have the first initial “J.”
J Life Mart had a half-off sale during the day of its grand opening April 1, and has since seen a lot of business, Chou said. “Thayer is a very busy street, and students like new stuff,” he added. “There’s no other store like this” on Thayer, Chou said.
University students especially appreciated the unique offering of Asian products that J Life Mart carries.
“I like that it’s a place that has Asian snacks because you don’t really see that around Providence,” Camille Leung ’24 said. “As an Asian person, it's comforting to be able to go to a shop that stocks the snacks that you’re familiar with and enjoy.”
“I loved the store’s selection of foods and was surprised to see that they also had some skincare and hygienic products from Asian brands I was familiar with,” Jackie Cho ’24 said. “I’m just glad there’s now a place where I know I can get some of my favorite Asian childhood snacks and drinks.”
Customer feedback is also highly appreciated at J Life Mart, Chou said, adding that he is attentive and will fill the shelves according to customer’s wishes.
“What you want on the shelves, we will try to get it,” he said. “It’s not just my store, it’s everyone’s store.”