Hardworking Hawaii: Kaya’s Store in Punalu’u celebrates 75 years in business

Hardworking Hawaii

PUNALU’U, Hawaii (KHON2) — A convenience store in Punalu’u is celebrating 75 years in business.

Beverly Hashimoto is the second generation owner of Kaya’s Store. Her father started the shop in 1946.

“He grew up in a poor family,” Hashimoto said about her father. “That’s how he. All he knew was to work hard, He got up early, and came home late.”

The family business has changed a lot over the last 75 years.

“This used to be a butcher shop. [My father] used to carve meat,” Hashimoto said about a small corner of the shop that is now a kitchen that serves plate lunches.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the store’s charm and importance to the Punalu’u community.

“They know you,” said Robert, a long-time customer of Kaya’s Store. “They know what you want. They know what you need. You come in, they kind of sometimes can already guess you ahead. It just brings that homely feel.”

The early mornings and late nights were passed down to Beverly in the 90s. Her husband, Vern, helps out immensely too. However, Vern credits his wife for the store’s success.

“She was a fashion designer,” Vern Hashimoto said about his wife, Beverly. “So she has no retail, restaurant, or book keeping background, and I’m very proud of her.”

The Hashimoto’s run more than just a convenience store. They sell sodas, but they also run an entire kitchen, mostly on their own.

When COVID-19 hit the islands, the Hashimoto’s said they were incredibly worried.

“You know he said ‘that every single person that walks through the door, we better be appreciative and thankful because we’re not gonna have any tourists come in,'” Beverly said, recalling what her husband told her at the start of the pandemic.

However, it turns out, Kaya’s Store didn’t need the tourists to survive.

“Business spurted! I mean almost immediately,” Vern said. “People just started spending locally, I mean really locally.”

Those locals are so grateful for Bev and Vern.

“I think on this side, it takes a whole community,” Robert said. “From down the road that way to this way. With tourists not coming out as much a lot of locals depended on this store. So yeah, they’re doing a good job.”

On the store’s 75th anniversary, Bev and Vern are celebrating the business’ most successful year yet.

“I’m not one to to give up,” Beverly Hashimoto said. “You know, we work long hours, But that’s okay. By the end of the day, we’re happy.”

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