Goodbye, Kojima

KAPAA — Kapaa will lose a piece of its history when doors to the Kojima Store close at the end of the month.

“What? They’re closing?” said David Murray of Kapaa, not wanting to believe the news. “I buy all my meat there.”

Murray’s comment echoed that of other people who learned that Kojima Store, following five generations of family operation, will close its doors at the end of June.

“This is not a happy time for us,” said Glenn Kojima, store manager. “Kojima Store is almost a century old. The family decided to close. There are many reasons to stay open, but there are more reasons to close.”

Kojima Store, Glenn said, started in Wailua across from the Chevron station. Over the years, the store moved to Waipouli, then to an area where the skating rink is currently located before settling into its current space along Kuhio Highway.

The closing joins the recent closings and turnovers of other island landmarks, including the sale of Big Save stores to Times Supermarket and the closure of Hanamaulu Cafe.

“I had no intention of coming back,” Glenn said. “But dad became ill, and I came back in 1987 out of college. Looking back, it was good I came home because I was able to spend time with both my mother and father before they died.”

Kojima Store continued its ongoing battle to stay alive, adjusting to business challenges, including the arrival of the big box stores, growing traffic problems in town and more.

“But it was still a good time to come home,” Glenn said. “I was married, real estate prices were good, and it was the right time to start a family. The timing worked out well for us.”

Over the years, Glenn said Kojima Store appreciated the support and patronage from customers and workers.

“We have a lot to be thankful for,” Glenn said. “We have seen a lot of people come through the doors and are thankful for their friendship and support. We, in turn, support the local people.”

He said the store has patronized local vendors as well as supported other local businesses who patronize him.

His store was known for quality meat.

“Beef,” said Kenneth Kubota, of Coffeetalk in the Pono Market in Kapaa, on what he liked to buy at the century-old store. “Pono Market gets all the beef for its hamburgers from Kojima Store. To hear they are closing is quite a shock. It’s so sad.”

A few doors down, Kenny Ishii of Ono Family Restaurant is also a customer of Kojima Store.

“Ham hocks,” Ishii said. “I get all the ham hocks from them. Now, I gotta go stock up before they close. Kojima Store will be missed.”

Glenn said the property will, in all probability, be leased out. He said when the doors finally close to the community grocery store, he will probably go out to do something he enjoys.

“Who knows? He might become a cook,” said Kenneth. “I really enjoy his recipes and his little stories on how to create dishes, or where to eat.”


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