Exemplary Service Keeps Loyal Customers Coming Back

Gwen Battad Ishikawa

Long before the arrival in Hawai‘i of Costco and Sam’s Club, Shimaya Shoten was the place to go for food that could be purchased in bulk, especially ethnic fare. My grandmother used to sell food at community events, so she made one or two trips to Shimaya every month. As a youngster, I would tag along with my parents and grandma to the warehouse on Kohou Street to pick up flour for fried chicken, mochiko for desserts and dried shrimp for pinakbet. When I was old enough to drive, I became my grandma’s Shimaya driver, either bringing my grandma or picking up her order from the will call counter.

It’s been years since I stepped foot into the warehouse, even though it’s located right across the Kapälama Canal from our Herald offices. When I drive by their building and see all of the parking stalls filled, I feel happy knowing that even with the Mainland big box retailers in our Islands, Shimaya still has a following.

One hundred years in business. That’s an impressive milestone to reach, especially in this day and age.

For a company, especially one in food retailing, to remain in business for a century — and still going strong — is almost unheard of. And yet, that is the story of Shimaya Shoten.

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