Foodland in Hawaii Kai, which has been around for nearly five decades at the Koko Marina Center, will close on July 10.
Taking its place?
Walgreens, the nation’s largest drugstore chain with 7,714 drugstores in all 50 states, including 11 in Hawaii.
Foodland versus Walgreens. It’s actually not a fair debate. Foodland is primarily a grocery store; Walgreens is a drugstore.
But for this week’s Great Debate, I thought it was appropriate since one was replacing the other.
Here are some facts for comparison:
Foodland opened its first store on May 6, 1948 in Market City. It was Hawaii’s first modern supermarket and crowds were so large, the front doors had to be locked and workers allowed only a few people in at a time. Since then, the company expanded to 32 stores statewide, employing more than 2,500 people. (It was the first supermarket in Hawaii Kai when it opened in 1963.) It’s the largest locally owned and operated grocery retailer in the state.
Walgreens, on the other hand, is the nation’s largest drugstore with more than 7,000 stores across the country and Puerto Rico and fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The Deerfield, Ill.-based chain services nearly 6 million customers every day. It plans to open between 25 and 30 stores in Hawaii, the first store opening in 2007 at the former site of Tower Records on Keeaumoku Street.
You can argue they are different — because they are.
But then how can one — namely, Walgreens — replace the other?
Foodland felt the competition with the the opening of Safeway and Costco in Hawaii Kai. But shoppers still chose Foodland for its commitment to local goods and customer service.
It’s hard to see local companies — once again — get replaced by Mainland chains. But this probably wouldn’t happen if we, as consumers, chose local in the first place.
I had a discussion about this with the son of the owners of the Crack Seed Center, which closed its Ala Moana Center location (though it operates online) last month. When I told him that I prefer to patronize local businesses, he asked if I shopped at Costco.
I paused. “Uh,” I hesitated, “yeah, I do,” quickly adding that I only went there for specific things like puppy pads, toilet paper and Diet Coke.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “That still hurts (small businesses).”
And he’s right. I’m guilty of shopping at discount big-box retailers to get a better price. And now local businesses, who can’t afford to discount the way these other companies can, get pushed out.
Is it worth it? Or is this just the way of life in a consumer-based, capitalistic society?
Well, I guess one way to think about this is to know that when Foodland first appeared on the scene, surely they too must have displaced smaller, neighborhood markets. Yes, Foodland is local, but nonetheless, I would imagine that smaller business owners must have felt the sting of being pushed aside by a larger volume competitor.
It is sad to see fewer choices – in Hawaii and elsewhere – as a result of the rise of big box retailers.
You’re probably right about that… I wonder what small mom-and-pop shops had to close down when Foodland moved in…
Eric & Cat: Foodland has roots as a mom and pop. When Maurice Sullivan married into the Chinese family, his vision was to develop the business beyond mom and pop, result is the Sullivan family companies. He also brought in the first Mcdonalds in Aina Haina. Liberty House started as a plantation store for A&B, and began to focus on Japanese market forsaking its island roots…now we have Macy’s. Long’s came in from California and we embraced it, but we had independent pharmacy and drugstores that lost out to it. The only locally owned drugstore of any note is ABC which started as a mom and pop. City Mill remains a bastion of local roots like Foodland. Will it survive the Home Depot and Loewes onslaught? Another one is CS Wo. Bottom line: things change but can companies maintain that customer service and quality we usually associate with smaller establishments? That all stems from leadership. Most corporate leadership, government included, tends to be so distant from their customer base that the feeling of being concerned for other than the customers dollar is lost. Is local better? Only if customer service, quality, and community service are part of the mission. Can you imagine this blog site written by a committee, financed by large sponsors, and filled with advertisements? Now that would be a mom and pop!!? Wait!! we probably will lose Fuud Pix Fridays….Oh no!!!!Aaaiiiyyyaaahhh! NO TENKS!
i’d still rather have Tower records. *sigh* .Oh well. Just dont see a need for a Walgreens now. Cant eat toiletries and nick nack crap made in china, when you get right down to it. Could also use more shoe stores with better quality shoes at low prices. And high gas prices are really destroying people’s lives too.
The problem with that Walgreens is parking. I mean, Tower Records had it hard enough!
I think its the opposite if you ask me. Foodland wanted to close the Hawaii Kai store. Think about how well the Aina Haina Foodland farms is doing. Could this area support 2 of them? Doubt it. So they let the older and less visited store shut its doors. Safeway around the corner, and various other issues with that store. I am sure they wanted it shut. Could that area sustained 2 Foodland Farms…hard to imagine…..
Walgreens vs CVS. No different than Ford vs GM. Its just preference
So basically while Foodland may be crying foul about the lease….somehow i think it was all calculated. They got a better deal at Aina Haina and stuck it to Coco Marina
Suspect Foodland would have abandoned that store anyway so someone had to come in.
I think the bigger issue in Hawaii is that there is still this local versus the world mentality. It was far stronger when I moved there in 1994 than it is now but it is still very strong. One pure blood Hawaiian buddy of mine used to say ‘come to Hawaii, spend ALL your money, and then leave’ pat me on the back and ask me while I was still there. He’d have a good laugh and then I’d tell him one day I would buy the island from the Japanese and toss him off the Pali… Good times. He also told me being called haole was OK… as long as it wasn’t proceeded with FN. Once told a friend that moving to Hawaii was a step in joining a large fraternity. And that the hazing ritual was about a two year process. And also the process made being tarred and feathered seem like child’s play.
Back to the topic at hand, when Macys took over the Liberty House downtown and Ala Moana was expanded yet again some of the charm left. But as new generations come along they one day may be lamenting the end of Costco or Walmart. KMart and sears almost disappeared on the mainland. For me as long as there is surf, wind, gold courses, and sun there will be something to love in Hawaii.
I hate friggin typos…
The grocery business is very tough: razor thin margins, spoilage, cost of refrigeration. I applaud anyone who can see the need for a new grocery store, find a location, biuild or fit the building for this use, line up suppliers, hire/train/develop workers, get noticed in the market, provide the right products at the right prices with the right service, and make a go of it.
I tend not to shop at big-box stores because I live in an older area where there was no room to build. They still took business away from local stores, but I don’t want to drive 30-45 minutes each way to get to one. So, unless it is 10:30 at night, and I think I can’t wait to get something, I’ll fit my schedule to the more local stores that run on one long shift per day.
I worry that Hawaii could turn into some of these other places that just have chain stores lining up and down the highways.
I shop at Costco too, for obvious reasons. It’s hard to imagine affording life if we only supported local business. And certainly Costco employs many people with very good benefits– better than probably what most smaller businesses can give. Even local businesses outsource normal chain big products, while it does seem like Costco (and Whole Foods) works with many local companies too.
Anyway, this debate is about Foodland/Walgreens. Oops.
I try to shop at local stores/markets as much as possible. I think there can be smart local products who end up doing well on a larger scale. Look at Waialua Soda– they’ve expanded nationally. I’m surprised the Crack Seed store had to close though. Maybe it’s a poor choice, though, to go with such an expensive location with a fairly low-revenue product. People would still come to them in a less prominent spot.
I was going to basically say the same thing as Mariko. I try to support local businesses when I can, but at the end of the day, we need to make sure “we” can afford the daily costs of living, and shopping where prices are “drastically” cheaper has to be considered. When I lived in Hawaii Kai and now St. Louis Heights, both Foodland and CIty Mill was/is close to me. I always go there first. If an item I need is priced what I consider “fairly” I will buy it; while knowing it might be a bit cheaper at Safeway, Home Depot or even Costco. But if there’s a big difference, sorry, I have to get it where it makes a difference in my pocket book.
I also think it was wrong of the crack seed store guys to lay a guilt trip on you Cat. It’s a business… they profit off of you, so you have the right to shop where you feel best fits your budget.
Also, isn’t this the “very same” debate people had when Starbucks first came to Hawaii, and started putting out mom & pop coffee shops?
I predict an announcement before the end of the year, of a new Foodland store in the Hawaii Kai community. Larger, better parking, new building.
Interesting… where would it go DaGuy? Maybe on the corner of Hawaii Kai Drive and Keahole? Or Kalanianaole and Keahole? I’ve often wondered how those two lots have been vacant for so long. I actually worked on a condominium tower design for a developer who owned the first lot mentioned. But that was five years ago and nothing’s gone forward with it.
…OK, I lied, I posted “again.”
Does anyone know what will happen to the Coffee Bean and Tea Lead at HiKai? They seem to be tied into Foodlands across the island. While sad to see Foodland close at that location, I will be very, very sad if it affects “The Bean” as I became good friends will all that work there and would hate to see them lose their jobs. Some have been there since its opening.
…as I became good friends *with* all that work there…
I agree David Jackson… friggin’ typos! (haha)
Cat, can you add an “edit” button?
the Coffee Bean is closing as well….we are all getting an option to move to other stores..it’s a sad time at the store, for sure
Sorry, don’t mean to take over the comments like Rosette, haha… this’ll be my last comment.
From what I heard on the news, it was FOODLAND who walked away from lease negotiations. Maybe they thought they’d be approached with a better offer by doing so, but didn’t count on another tenant waiting in the wings.
Anyway, this spells bad news for Longs Hawaii Kai as now they will have competition. Safeway definitely benefits from this.
I’ve been on the leasee’s side where the landlord is raising the rent past the point where you can make a profit. There are times when you just have to fold. Unless the merchant owns the property he is at the mercy of the landlord, who has every right to get as much as he can for his property. Had one landlord who after we spent several years and finally began to show a profit and had a fairly thriving business decided now he could make a real profit and not have to buy us out just raise the rent and force us out. Karma caught up with him tho and he went out of business 3 years later.