Prominent Hawaiian Supermarket has Immigrant Roots

February 23, 2016 6:23 am
by David Jakeman

Waikoloa immigration attorneys and the Waikoloa immigrant community have likely had their lives touched at some point by the business venture of an immigrant couple that started iconic stores that are very much enmeshed in the Hawaiian community. KTA superstores, which can be found throughout the Hawaiian islands was started by Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi, an immigrant couple from Japan.

History of Stores

A century ago, in 1916, Koichi and Taniguchi opened their first store. It was called K Taniguchi Shoten. The store was not very large, measuring 500 square feet, but it sold a variety of dry goods and groceries in the Waiakea Town area of Hilo. Since that time, it has been a family-connected business. The Taniguchi’s grandson, Barry Taniguchi, now serves as the store chain’s chairman and CEO.
The resiliency of the stores should not belie the difficulties KTA has had to overcome in the past. Natural disasters, to which Hawaii is not immune, have made it difficult. But the stores have stood the test of time by prioritizing their customers. This was especially the case when the couple’s store was first starting out. Taniyo Taniguchi kept the store running while her husband took orders from around the area and delivered orders by bicycle.

Many of their customers were laborers on the sugar plantations, and they only got paid once a month. The Taniguchis let them take groceries on credit, which they then paid at the end of the month. If that wasn’t challenging enough, the Taniguchis also worked with the laborers when they were on strike and allowed the workers to take store goods on credit until the strike finished. It is not hard to see how such a store built loyalty, especially such with generosity. It is hard to imagine any store doing that these days.

Waikoloa Store

KTA stores now dot the different islands of Hawaii. In 1990, the Waikoloa Village market opened. It is one of six KTA-affiliated stores. The store’s success is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit of many of Hawaii’s immigrants. Waikoloa immigration lawyers have seen firsthand the long, lasting legacy many of them leave. In the case of the Taniguchi family, their work has had a large impact. The stores now employ more the 800 individuals.

The store has plans to celebrate at all of its different locations. In February, its Waimea store will take the reins. In March, the Keauhou store will be highlighted with a celebration. In April, the Waikoloa store will then have its turn. In May, the Kailua-Kona location will have a go, and in June, the Puainako store will celebrate.1 It seems like a lot, but maybe they’re celebrating enough to last another century. With the same principles, immigrant fortitude, and commitment to customers, it won’t be surprising to see KTA stores in Hawaii in 2116.

1 – http://www.westhawaiitoday.com/news/local-news/big-island-s-staple-supermarket-kta-celebrates-centennial

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