The opening of a new Longs Drugs store on a Sunday morning wouldn’t be expected to attract a crowd. No big deal, right? After all, there’s a Longs in Lihue and there was one in Kapaa before they closed it and moved to this new home in Waipouli. We’ve all shopped at Longs and know what’s in there. Nothing too special with the opening of this new 27,000-square-foot store, right?
The parking lot gradually filled up as darkness lifted and folks arrived for the 7 a.m. blessing ceremony, hula and brief talk. Shoppers waited outside with carts, ready to go. People continued to arrive and line up, waiting for the doors to open at 8. Once inside, they were greeted with smiles and hellos and handed coupons for great deals. For those there, it felt a bit like an early Black Friday. Friends and family milled about, chatting as they checked out the products and designs of the specious store. The cash register was ringing early and often. Clearly, customers liked what they saw and left happy. And we might add this store has something unique with its drive-through pharmacy.
So, what to most would seem like a routine store opening was in reality a community gathering, even a celebration. It was more than a chance to shop and save money on specials. It was a chance to hang with friends and enjoy something new and fun. Such is the loyalty of Longs customers, and such is the commitment of the store to Kauai. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Consider the history. Longs got its start in California in the 1930s and opened in Honolulu in the 1950s. Since then, it has opened more than 50 stores in Hawaii, including two here on Kauai. Today, CVS Health operates nearly 8,000 CVS Pharmacy and Longs Drugs stores, which do well, with annual sales in the $10 million range at each store. Its mission, to help customers live a healthy lifestyle, is reflected in its decision earlier this year to stop selling tobacco products.
We also point out that the manager of this Longs store is Darlene Fujita, a Kapaa High School graduate who started with the store as a cashier and worked her way up the ladder. She knows firsthand what this company, which employs 40 at the new store, means to this island.
Longs and the residents of Kauai left no doubt Sunday morning: They like each other.
Congratulations to Longs on its new store. We’re glad you’re here.