HONOLULU (KHON2) — Okay here’s a foolish question. Do you like candy? Lots and lots of candy? We learn in this Business Matters report there’s a place in Kakaako where you can truly be a kid in the candy store.
A. C. Lyau Company, Ltd. is far from your typical candy or convenience store. It’s more like a big box store of 8,000 square feet of sweet and salty goodness — where everything is sold in bulk at wholesale prices.
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“You can buy things by the box here. We have people come in here for weddings, graduations, candy leis,” said Jonathon Lyau from A. C. Lyau Company Ltd. “We have a big range of customers: convenience stores, mini-marts, bookstores, cafeteria, gift shops. So we have a big range of customers”.
Now in their third, and hopefully forever location in Kakaako, A. C. Lyau Company celebrated 100 years in business in 2020.
“But it wasn’t like how it used to be. My grandfather started it with just little trinkets like little comic books or cartoon books. He would order it, bring it in and resell it here,” explained Lyau. “And then my dad took over the business and he changed it in 1965 to what it is today, like a candy wholesale business.”
Obviously, the business has seen many ups and downs in its more than 100 years.
But Lyau said the most difficult period was the last two years with almost 60% of their business disappearing as a result of the pandemic.
“We had no tourists coming. Waikiki was shut down. We had no hotel business — nothing came through the airport. The school shut down, we lost school business,” said Lyau.
Then there was the story that made headlines. The giant gummy bear stolen from the front of their store — something he said actually turned out to be not so bad.
“People would all of a sudden talk about the gummy bear and the comments that we would get — we started to see new costumers come in and say ‘we saw you in the news we didn’t realize what the gummy bear was up there for,'” said Lyau.
While the gummy bear still remains at large, today Lyau said business is almost back to normal. He made sure to get his business degree to be ready when his time came.
And perhaps most important, he has what is probably the ultimate qualification for the job.
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“As you know I do a lot of running and people think I’m healthy but they don’t realize that candy is a big percentage of my diet,” Lyau said as he laughed.: “Everyone loves their candy. Everyone has their sweet tooth or we even sell a lot of salty snacks. It’s the basics that people go to.”