Doki Doki Kawaii Shop Brings Anime, Manga, Stationery, and All Things Cute to Lakewood

"I definitely wanted to center this on women feeling safe in a space where they can be like, ‘Yeah, this is my nerdery,' but we welcome everyone”

click to enlarge Doki Doki Kawaii Shop - Maria Elena Scott
Maria Elena Scott
Doki Doki Kawaii Shop

Named for the Japanese term for the sound of an excited heart beating, Doki Doki Kawaii Shop, in all its pastel glory, sits on Lakewood’s Madison Avenue.

Kawaii refers to the Japanese culture of cuteness. The shop is stocked with anime figurines, manga—especially niche and LGBTQ manga — candy, stationery, plushies, Japanese and Korean skincare, and more.

Originally from Lakewood, owner Ami Rizek also works full-time as an engineering manager at Hyland Software. “I moonlight as a cute shop owner at night but then I work my day job,” she said.

Before opening in December, Rizek designed, prepped and decorated the store space with the help of her partner and friends. The color scheme is inspired by Eevee, her favorite Pokémon.

Although she expected primarily women to check out Doki Doki, Rizek says she's been happy at the diversity of her clientele.

“Everyone comes here because there’s nothing else like this, which is really wonderful,” Rizek said. “I’m super excited about that, but I definitely wanted to center this on women feeling safe in a space where they can be like, ‘Yeah, this is my nerdery—this is the stuff I love,' but we welcome everyone.”

As a kid in Lakewood, Rizek fell in love with manga at Madison Public Library. Like many American adults, she discovered anime on Toonami, a Cartoon Network block that ran in the 1990s and 2000s. Shows like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon were early hits, the latter of which remains one of Rizek’s favorites today.

However, she wanted a community where she could share her interest. Now, Rizek wants Doki Doki to be that space for kawaii lovers of all ages.

click to enlarge Shoppers at Doki Doki - Maria Elena Scott
Maria Elena Scott
Shoppers at Doki Doki

“We have a group of high schoolers who come almost every day and this has become like a safe space...they just come here and read manga and do homework and hang out," said Rizek, who opens Doki Doki right after the school day at nearby Lakewood High School ends.

"I would’ve loved this as a kid and it would’ve been healing and safe for me, so the fact that I’m bringing this to other kids is just wonderful.”

Bracketed by walls filled with kawaii wares, a long table sits in the middle of Doki Doki. Rizek wants both the table and her shop to be welcoming spaces for the community to gather and is planning events for both kids and adults.

“One of the events I’m going to be doing in the future is like a magical-girl-potion-making event where it’s really about self-care and self-love," said Rizek. We’ll create something and really become magical girls together and bond and hopefully make friends. That’s what I’m hoping to see more of in the future.”

After opening her shop, Rizek gifted herself tattoos of the sailor guardians from Sailor Moon and Eevee, from Pokémon, characters she's loved since childhood. She says they're reminders of what she's accomplished.

Some more recent favorites include To Your Eternity, Chainsaw Man and Bocchi the Rock.

“The whole show is about how awesome she is at rock and roll but also how people just accepted her for being awkward, she didn’t have to change," Rizek said about Bocchi the Rock. "Those kind of messages in these shows are what’s so wonderful. They make you feel like you are an accepted person despite how weird you feel you are. There’s always someone in these shows that you can relate to. Those kind of shows I gravitate towards.”

In addition to repeat customers, Doki Doki sees visitors who spot its pink brightness walking and driving down Madison Avenue. Rizek encourages everyone to stop by, regardless of familiarity with anime, manga or kawaii culture.

click to enlarge Doki Doki Kawaii Shop Brings Anime, Manga, Stationery, and All Things Cute to Lakewood
Maria Elena Scott

“Everyone who’s come in here leaves with a smile on their face…you come in and you feel a little cheered up after you leave, so if you’re having a bad day you can come browse my store," Rizek said. "There’s so much cute stuff, you can hug a plush, hang out, there’s great music playing in the background, so I hope that brings the warmth, especially in the winter."

More information about Doki Doki Kawaii Shop is found on its website.

Coming soon: Cleveland Scene Daily newsletter. We’ll send you a handful of interesting Cleveland stories every morning. Subscribe now to not miss a thing.

Follow us: Google News | NewsBreak | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter
Like this story?
SCENE Supporters make it possible to tell the Cleveland stories you won’t find elsewhere.
Become a supporter today.
Scroll to read more Cleveland News articles

Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.