New life for old Arakawa’s building in Waipahu

Local News

A lot has changed in Waipahu over the years.

What was once an old plantation community is now filled with houses and restaurants, and now the rail guideway.

One of the olden day stores that drew crowds of people was Arakawa’s, and a new business just opened up in that iconic building.

Just below the old sugar mill on historic Depot Road sat Arakawa’s.

Its famous palaka was part of the fabric of Waipahu’s old plantation life.

Arakawa’s opened in 1909 selling goods to plantation workers.

Years later, it was known for selling a little bit of everything at bargain basement prices.

But in 1995, the community said sayonara to the store beloved by so many.

“I’m 65 years old now. I’ve been going to Arakawa’s since I was a small girl when I was ten years old,” Arakawa’s customer Emily Tomas said in 1995.

“We are just like one whole family. I like the environment over there,” Arakawa’s employee Elizabeth Arcalas said in 1995.

It’s been 21 years since Arakawa’s closed, and now there’s new retail life in the old building that sits just below the old sugar mill.

Waipahu Plantation Marketplace opened last month.

“We turned it into an indoor marketplace with a food court someplace where to give back to the community, so they have a place to go to and support local businesses and local farms so they can come and sell their produce here,” Waipahu Plantation Marketplace Owner Kris Louie said.

It’s still a work in progress. Kris and her husband Sherman Louie still want to add more vendors, and expand their food court. They also plan to add a seafood and fish market.

The Louies bought the property in 2014.

“Arakawa’s closed its doors in 1995, and they sold it to a Samoan church in 1998, and then since 1998 until 2014 it was being run as a church,” Kris Louie said. “We wanted to restore it but keep it as close to what people remember Arakawa’s to be. So we didn’t want to demolish the building because it’s such an iconic building.”

Waipahu Plantation Marketplace is holding a grand opening celebration on Saturday, January 16 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. There will be free shave ice, popcorn and cotton candy, and live entertainment.

Waipahu Plantation Marketplace is open M-F 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Sun 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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