Tears flow as Foodland Hawaii Kai bids farewell after 47 years in business

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HAWAII KAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - After nearly five decades in business, Foodland's Hawaii Kai store said farewell to its loyal customers Sunday night.

After a town hall meeting, a petition drive and other last-ditch efforts to save their store, heart-broken customers shopped there for the last time.

At 6 PM, the doors to the popular supermarket closed. But the tears started flowing long before that.

There was a steady stream of customers on Foodland's final day at Koko Marina Shopping Center, customers who say it was more than just a grocery store.

"I'm very sad because I love this Foodland," Douglas Kiang, customer, said. "I've been shopping here since I was about five or six years old."

"The people are always friendly," Mary Kiang, customer, said. "You really get to know the cashiers and the people who work here. It's just heart-breaking."

Inside, many of the store's shelves and display cases were bare. Employees wore lei and continued to serve their customers with smiles.

"I think it's a huge tragedy and travesty for our community," Paula Ota, customer, said. "It's a great place to shop, get poke. They have specialty beers and wines."

As it got closer to the 6 PM closing time, several workers broke down in tears.

"I feel like joining them," Ellen Chiu-Chung, customer, said.

"The workers are getting teary," Mary Kiang said. "It's very sad walking in and whole sections are gone. It's very sad."

The company was unable to negotiate a new lease after 47 years at the site.

"They probably took a chance in opening in a new community," Chiu-Chung said. "They banked on it growing, which it did. The community now remembers how they've always been here for us."

Koko Marina decided to lease the 32,000 square foot space to Walgreen's.

Foodland says its more than 50 employees have been placed at other locations.

"It really felt like a neighborhood supermarket," Douglas Kiang said. "I just really enjoyed shopping here."

Foodland pitched the idea of subleasing half the space, but says it has yet to hear back from Walgreen's.

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