What? Everyday Bargains? This Can't Be Japan

Off a back street near Ikebukuro station in northwest Tokyo, you take a graffiti-covered elevator past several levels of bowling alleys and amusement arcades. At the fifth floor, the doors open onto a room crammed with gun-metal-gray shelves full of boxes of electronic goods, mostly personal computers and peripherals. In one corner are two men and a cash register. They'll sell you whatever you want at bargain prices, but that's all: no explanation, no free service, no testing. You're in one of 11 stores operated by Step Co., a fast-growing discounter.

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