I got scammed by a cute vintage shop in Japan

Please note: While my books were translated by professionals, this blog post got a little help from AI, meaning it may not be a perfect translation.

Japan is the safest country in the world. In Starbucks, you can leave your laptop on the table when you go to the toilet, whoever forgets his iPhone in the metro will almost certainly get it back that same day and in the evening I walk home without any fear. Yet I was scammed yesterday. By an extremely sweet-looking girl in a pink dress, with kawaii pins in her hair and a high-pitched voice that makes her sound like a ten-year-old, while she is probably twenty-five.

Kiki not so kawaii

Maybe you remember the last time I wrote about the Kiki Kawaii shop in Koenji. Kiki and its sister stores Kiki 2, Skipper Neko and Kiarry’s wholesale in cute, retro, Disney and color.

vintage for sale

As some of you may know, I brought a load of vintage to sell in Tokyo. I usually do that at New York Joe Exchange. Such a store inspects your items, and then pays 30% of the retail price for items that they want to sell in their store, and ten cents per kilo for everything else. (You will not get those items back.) With New York Joe there is also the option of exchanging your clothes for store credit, in that case you will receive 60%.

I saw on Instagram that Kiki also buys clothing, and because I had some items that would fit them more than New York Joe’s, I decided to give it a try yesterday. Below is Kiki’s explanation on Instagram, and the translation.

For those who want a better translation than Google’s version, in short: We buy items, determine the retail price and you get 30% of that. For items of which we cannot determine a retail price (that means, items that they will not put in the store), we pay 10 cents per kilo. And then some yadayada about information and gift vouchers. I am familiar with this system, that’s how it works at New York Joe too. And although it is sometimes disappointing when they do not take an item, and sometimes maybe even a bit doubtful, I usually have a good score with NY Joe. On average they take around 2/3 of my items.

A disappointing result

I brought fourteen items to Kiki yesterday. I had made a list on my phone because I like to know exactly which items of clothing they buy and which they don’t. Of the fourteen items they finally bought… Five.

What a disappointment. Of course I had not sold to Kiki before, so I thought, too bad, but it was a lesson learned. Still it didn’t sit well with me. The receipt was not detailed at all, which made my analysis more difficult. At first I thought that the first and last item “OD” meant something like Disney, because I brought a Disney World shirt and an Animal Kingdom sweater of which I was almost certain they’d take it. Later I learned that it didn’t say “OD”, but “OP”. One-piece, or dress. Anyway. I studied the scribbles in kawaii handwriting and added the prices to my list. And then I opened Instagram this morning.

“Hey, those are my dresses!”

“Eh? Left one-piece, ¥3500? Right one-piece, ¥3200?! But my receipt says …?”

I looked at my receipt. I was not allowed to take it with me (strange, New York Joe always gives me a receipt?), but I had taken a photo.


The receipt was clear: they had given me 30% of ¥3000 for my dresses (¥3000 is around 30 dollars), while they put in store for more! My trust, which was already shaky after my poor score, was gone. I decided to go back to Koenji, to browse around in the shops. I spotted my dresses, but not much later I really hit the jackpot. At Skipper Neko I found my Disney shirt. The shirt they didn’t want. There was a price tag on it: ¥3000.

Time to confront them. “Hiii, you were here yesterday!”, she squealed. “Yes, I think you made a mistake.”

Not good

I showed her my photo of the Disney shirt and the Insta post of the dresses. She didn’t speak English, and I don’t speak Japanese very well, so she started typing in Google Translate. “When the item is not good, we pay 10 yen per kilo,” I read. And: “The price may vary.” I put her own Insta post through Google Translate and read her own rules to her. “Quality not good”, she murmured. “Good enough to put it in the store for ¥3000!” I muttered.

I stared at her with the most unamused look I could muster. My message was clear: you are going to solve this. “One moment, please wait here!”, She asked as she walked back to make a call.

“There was a mistake,” she said. Great, I thought, now they’re going to give me the rest of the money. My metro ticket to Koenji was more expensive, but now I just wanted justice. Unfortunately, she decided to bombard me with even more lies.

“Instagram price is wrong. This is real price.” She pointed to the price of the two dresses on the receipt as if I were an idiot. I grabbed my phone and showed her the pictures I took fifteen minutes earlier.

Also not ¥3000

“We will make the shop price lower!”, she promised. “I don’t believe you”, I Google Translated back at her. “This feels like a scam.”

After some phone calls I got the Disney shirt back. It’s something , but I do not believe that this is the only item they will secretly sell. I also spotted one of my jackets, with a price tag of ¥2500. Because the receipt was so vague, I cannot say for certain whether that was one of the two “outer” items on the receipt. Anyway, there was no item worth ¥2500 on the receipt, so something is not right here either.

I know for sure that I will soon see some of my other items on their Instagram. Anyway, what can I do about it? I’ll never bring my clothes there again, that’s for sure. And I’ll try to warn everyone with this blog:

Kiki Kawaii are scammers!

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