Lawson is a convenience store franchise chain in Japan. The store originated in the U.S. State of Ohio, but today exists as a Japanese company and is the second largest convenience store chain in the country.
Consolidated was renamed Sara Lee in 1985. At about the same time, Lawson's stores in the United States were sold to Dairy Mart, a smaller chain of convenience stores located in Enfield, Connecticut. Dairy Mart moved to the Akron suburb of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, renamed the Lawson's stores, and operated the chain as Dairy Mart for the next 17 years. Under Dairy Mart, the chain was not without controversy. Dairy Mart was sued by the American Family Association, after a Dairy Mart manager in Ohio complained that the company's policy of selling pornography subjected her to sexual and religious harassment. The court case, Stanley v. Lawson Co., gained fame as a test of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In 2002, Alimentation Couche-Tard of Laval, Quebec bought the assets and name of Dairy Mart. Most of the former Dairy Mart stores -- many of which were either originally Lawson's stores, or were located in communities in which Lawson's once had a presence -- were converted to the Circle K brand. Due to popular response from consumers in Ohio and elsewhere, however, Alimentation Couche-Tard announced that Lawson's Chip Dip would continue to be sold "no matter what the name of the store", as was reported in the Akron Beacon-Journal
In 1974, Consolidated signed a formal agreement with Daiei to open the first Lawson stores in Japan. On 1975 April 15, Daiei Lawson Co., Ltd. was established as a wholly owned subsidiary of Daiei, Inc.. The first store opened in Sakurazuka, Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture in June 1975.
In September 1979 the official name was changed to Lawson Japan, Inc. Originally a joint venture between Japanese consumer retailing giant Daiei and U.S.-based Lawson Co., Lawson was a wholly owned subsidiary of Daiei until 2001, when Mitsubishi Corporation became the main shareholder as Daiei's slide began.
Lawson is one of the top convenience store chains in Japan, second only to convenience franchise giant 7-Eleven. All of the usual Japanese convenience store goods such as magazines, manga, soft drinks, contraceptives, onigiri, and bento are available.