WAILUKU - Wailuku Market, which took over the old Kaohu Store space in Wailuku less than two years ago, closed its doors one last time Friday evening.
"We're sorry about it," said owner Mi Yon Anzai.
Anzai thanked all of her patrons who frequented the store, some of whom showed up more than once during the day.
Wailuku Market clerk Young Jahja makes one of the old Kaohu Store-style red hot dogs Friday afternoon. Wailuku Market, which took over the Kaohu Store space nearly two years ago, closed Friday.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Anzai's husband, David, said: "It was good hard work. The thing we are going to miss about it is the customers who became friends."
David Anzai said he and his wife wanted to take over the Kaohu Store from the Tengan family because he didn't want to see another mom-and-pop store "go down," as Anzai himself, took over an optometry business from his father.
"I said, 'Let's give it a try.'"
"Initially, we started it as a business to make an income. We never got there to generating profits," David Anzai said.
On Friday, some frequent customers were wondering where they were going to go for prepared foods and refreshments.
"I come here every time," said Charles Fujimoto, who lives in Wailuku and volunteers at Hale Makua down the street.
Fujimoto was buying prepackaged Korean saimin and other prepared foods.
"Now where I going, McDonald's?" he said jokingly.
Fujimoto, who is also an avid volunteer for Special Olympics, collected empty Spam cans from Anzai, after she used the Spam to make Spam musubi.
Fujimoto then turned the Spam cans into works of art, where he twisted the metal to make the cans into little chairs and couches, perfect for little dolls, which he bought from Wailuku Market.
Wailuku resident Trisha Anderson said she will miss the store "big time."
"It's so unique. It's such a blessing," Anderson said.
She added that she has been visiting the store for around 30 years, even back when it was run by members of the Tengan family, who made the store famous for its hot dogs and after-school sodas, candy and other snacks for both staff and students at Iao Intermediate School across the street as well as a snack stop for nearby county workers.
"Everyone is so friendly," Anderson said.
Friday morning, the usual customers of county workers and friends came to the store to buy hot dogs, Spam musubi and candy. Some were caught off guard by the closure.
Still on the shelves were candies and some unique goods such as Japanese and Korean noodles and decorated children's pencils and small plastic 2-inch dolls.
Mi Yon Anzai had brought in the Asian goods and children's novelties.
She had added to the store menu a Korean sandwich, which her husband described as specially cooked, hand-cut, marinated meat.
The meat would be placed in a hot dog bun that was lined with mayonnaise and topped with cucumber.
Mi Yon Anzai enjoyed her customers but said she worked too many long days.
She and her best friend, whom she calls her "sister," Young Jahja, would be in the store at 3:30 a.m. preparing the Spam musubi, hot dogs and other items for the day.
Then they would stay at the store until closing at 6 p.m. The store was open six days a week.
It was a continuous cycle of long days, she said.
At times, Jahja volunteered her spare time to help her friend. But even she was sad on Friday.
"We have many good friendships," Jahja said.
David Anzai agreed, saying that he and his wife would never have been able to meet the good people of Maui if it weren't for the store. He added that state and county officials were "great" in helping them obtain permits to first open the store.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.