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Open-Chan

7-Eleven’s Taiwanese mascot is so beloved that customers paid $46 each to see a musical about him, report Eva Dou and Jenny W. Hsu in The Wall Street Journal (5/18/14). The mascot, known as Open-Chan, is "an extraterrestrial dog from the planet Open," and "also has a music album, shopping mall and theme park to his name." "I just love Open-Chan so much," says Huang Shulin, a customer. "I collect everything with his face on it. Dolls. Pens."

Richard Kao, a businessman, shops at 7-Eleven in part just "to collect enough stickers to earn a limited-edition alarm clock prize." "I want 20 of the clocks," he says. "I will buy as much stuff as needed to get them." Richard plans to give the clocks to his clients. "This is a meaningful gift," he explains. "If you are willing to collect convenience store stickers for someone, it shows you really care." Gifts aside, convenience stores do mean a lot in Taiwan, although no one seems to know exactly why.

Some say "it dates back to the Taiwanese general store, a fixture of life before the island became a modern economic powerhouse. Others say it comes from the busy Taiwanese lifestyle." Sociology professor Yen-Fen Tseng thinks it is because the stores "have ingrained themselves as a part of the communities in each neighborhood." "Convenience stores function as a community entrance," she says. "They are comparable to the village temple in days of yore."