Matsumoto's Shave Ice adapting to Haleiwa changes

Matsumoto's Shave Ice adapting to Haleiwa changes
Published: Nov. 13, 2013 at 9:19 AM HST
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HALEIWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "This gon' be like a courtyard," said Stan Matsumoto as he looked out on the property right next to his family's business. "It's gonna be different in, they're trying to finish the project in like 11 months."

Things are changing quickly around the shave ice spot.

Work has already begun on Kamehameha Schools' $16 million redevelopment plan. Nearby structures will be torn down and reused for more shops and parking.

"The atmosphere's going to change," says Stan. "It's going to be a different situation."

But Stan knows it will help bring visitors into the area. Besides, he's seen a lot of change since Matsumoto's opened in 1951.

His parents Mamoru and Helen opened it as a grocery store and worked 7 days a week.

"We used to have 3 theaters out here," said Stan, smiling while thinking back. "And they used to wait to like 9 or 10 o'clock at night for people going home to Waimea way to stop by to buy something. That's how much they struggled. I seen them."

Mamoru went looking for customers. He took loaves of bread into other neighborhoods. And before he could afford a truck, he carried everything on a bike.

"He used to go like to Waialua area, Haleiwa area and he used to drive towards Waiamea and he used to peddle like He used to open his back truck and say oh I have this today or the special today."

But business started booming in the 60's when the north shore surf scene took off.

"That's when shave ice started to sell better and we started to get busy," said Stan. Also, like word of mouth, that's what made the store popular from before was word of mouth. Actually was the local people.

Back then it was 5 cents for a small and 10 cents for a large.

Then in 1976 the family found another hot seller.

"Actually the t-shirt was just for family use and then customers saw that and they wanted to buy it and they would say to us "why don't you sell that shirt to us? We want to buy."

So despite Mamoru's protest, canned goods were phased out and the t-shirts took over.

Today the Matsumoto's have about 40 designs. They sell between 1,000 and 1,200 shave ice cones a day.

With that kind of demand they decided to sign an 8-year deal with Kamehameha Schools to stay put.

Fans come from all over Japan and the U.S.

But Stan says his family is forever grateful to the people of Hawaii.

"I would never forget what the local people did for the business," sId Stan. "If it wasn't for them, Matsumoto's wouldn't be standing here right now."

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