KOLOA — A family-owned business and Koloa landmark has been sold to the Kosasa family of Honolulu.
The Sueoka Store was acquired for an undisclosed amount by the Kosasa operations, which include ABC Stores, Island Gourmet Markets, Island Country Markets, Hawaiian Casuals, and Island Favorites, the Kosasa family announced in a press release Friday.
But the Sueoka family will be around for a while yet.
A contingency of sale says the family will continue to operate the store for four years, until early 2019, when the Sueoka Store celebrates the centennial of its founding.
“They finally did it,” said Lynn Kobashigawa, a longtime shopper at Sueoka’s, on Friday after learning the news. “We grew up with Sueoka’s. The small mom-and-pops are really starting to go, starting with the closing of Kojima Store.”
The acquisition is the result of a search started two years ago by the Sueoka family as part of its succession plan to find a buyer who shared the same core values of family and legacy, the release stated. Both the Kosasa and Sueoka families are successful family-owned kamaaina retail businesses with their roots embedded in the entrepreneurial spirits started by first generation immigrants from Japan, who came to work on the Hawaii plantations. Both families also maintain a culture of hard work and ethics where the customer and employee welfare are of the utmost importance, the release stated.
Mankichi Sueoka and his wife Yoshi opened the small store in Koloa in 1918, serving the Koloa Kauai Japanese plantation camp. The service extended to people as far away as Lihue and Kealia, sometimes making home deliveries on horse-drawn wagons.
In 1933, Sueoka Store moved to its present location, which is still considered the “heart of Koloa town.” Over the decades, the store retailing general merchandise transformed into a grocery store with fresh produce, a meat and seafood department, and a snack shop selling plate lunches and “world renowned” hamburgers.
“I grew up with Rod and Charlene, even through the days they made tofu,” said Lynn Kobashigawa of the Sueoka family members. “I knew they wanted to retire. I hope they don’t change things too much.”
Following the centennial celebration in four years, the Kosasas will continue to be an involved in the community as new owners of the store at 5392 Koloa Road.
Trisha Locquiao has been working with Sueoka Store for 14 years.
“They told us we still have some time,” Locquiao said. “But we don’t know what to expect.”