HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In these tough financial times, running a successful small business in Hawaii is no easy feat. But for one shoe shop in Honolulu, this isn't the first economic downturn it's weathered. Uyeda Shoes has managed to, not only survive, but thrive after almost 100 years in business.
Uyeda shoe store owner Claire Takashima makes her customers feel like Cinderella.
"It's like having a bunch of friends come over, and we have a shoe party, and we have a lot of fun!" Claire says with a laugh. She's walked a mile in their shoes - and then some - always testing samples for fit, fashion, and comfort. "It's like mining for gold 'cause I want to find that wonderful gem."
Comfortable and cute can be a challenge, but they've managed to keep up with the trends. "This has this poly-carbonate plate," Claire says as she shows a customer a new shoe style.
Three generations of family have run Uyeda Shoes. In 1915, Claire's grandfather, Saijiro Uyeda, opened for business on Fort street. When her father, Yoichiro, came of age, he took over - moving the store to Palama and then, to the current location at University square.
It's where customer Leila Miyano has been shopping for 35 years."It was like I was received as a familymember," says Miyano,"and I was so valued. I said, 'I've got to keep coming'."
A podiatrist recommended Uyeda Shoes to Gayle Ikeda 10 years ago. She's been coming here ever since. Ikeda says, "She has everything, and you don't even think about it and she'll add to whatever you need."
Claire says she'd like to see the next generation of family take over, but for now, she knows that she will be at the helm - at least for the next four years - until Uyeda shoe store hits that century mark.
A feel for good footwear has kept the company relevant, but it's the customer service that keeps them coming back. We wondered would Claire's grandfather think almost 100 years later. "He'd say, 'Banzai!'" Claire exclaims.