HONOLULU (KHON2) — A family-owned store in Waipahu is offering healthier options to the community, the owner said since they stopped selling cigarettes and alcohol a year ago, theft and other crime has practically disappeared at his store.
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Nii Superette is a 100-year-old family-run business but just recently its fourth-generation operator, Stephen Nii took some bold steps by removing cigarettes and alcohol off the shelves.
“Whether it’s pau hana time or whether it is the tourists that are coming in,” Nii said. “Alcohol is flowing everywhere here, so to be the one to basically flip the script.”
This change is in part due to economics, he said the profit margins on alcohol products are low but the loss when there is theft is high.
Nii said, “It doesn’t really make any sense for someone like me who has limited means to watch all the stuff all the time and just watch it run out the door.”
Instead, he started to introduce health supplements and alcohol-free beverages.
He said, “You swear there’s alcohol in it, they are very good add-ins and again, if you can blend the best of both worlds you won’t actually miss it.”
Not only are they providing healthier alternatives but Nii said the store has become a safer space for customers and employees.
Nii said, “When we were selling beer and tobacco, there’s a theft every week, someone would run out, and I would see a little skinny arm trying to go for the cigarette rack.”
The Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said this change in business model is going against an overall trend of increased shoplifting.
Yamaki said, “They are still coming in and still stealing the spam and the coffee and the alcohol and running through the back door or the front door and we know it’s not because they’re hungry we know it’s organized retail crime.”
Yamaki said it is becoming more common to keep items like make-up, alcohol and even spam locked up. Some retailers are also going cashless.
For Nii, this is a change that has been worth the risk.
Nii said, “I’m regaining everything that I sacrificed for doing this, as they said, there’s a whole lot of money that I left on the table but it’s money that had a lot of cost attached to it.”
He said restaurants have contacted him interested in learning more about alcohol-free cocktails, wines and spirits.