HAIKU – After 95 years, Hanzawa family members will give up operating their famous community store on Nov. 24.
Hanzawa’s Variety Store will not close. Neighbors Dana and Sue Klingman and Dana’s sister, Mollie, will reopen the store Dec. 1.
The store was started by Taichiro Hanzawa in 1915.
On Thursday, Sandy Daniells, granddaughter of Taichiro Hanzawa’s brother, Tetsuji, said she was having a hard time thinking of life without the store. She had intended to stay.
But five years of frustration trying to rezone the store and realign it for changing times had driven her and her husband, Matt, to the decision to lease the store.
Also, Matt’s parents and her mother are elderly, and they will be taking care of them. Sandy Daniells was a nurse before coming home from Oahu to take over the store when her uncle, Ralph Hanzawa, died in 1988.
“I really wish we had gotten the support we needed when we needed it,” she said.
She added, though, that she is sure that the Klingmans, friends and customers for years, will keep Hanzawa’s – with its name, at least for now – the community center it has always been.
Dana Klingman said he understood the store “has been struggling,” but he has a business plan he thinks will work.
To begin with, he will open on Sundays, which Hanzawa has not done before, and an hour earlier, at 6 a.m. Sandy Daniells said the early opening should be good for the community.
The Daniellses have 12 employees, and she hopes the Klingmans will hire some of them.
One employee is Nate Mayden, who has worked for Hanzawa’s for three and a half years.
“Everybody has a good time,” he said of working at the store. “It’s a real community.” He just has decided he wants to work Sundays.
Daniells said she and her husband spent $125,000 and endless hours on the rezoning, which she said was meant “to protect the business.”
It needed two kinds of protection. It is zoned interim, which means that if there were a disaster, a fire, for example, it probably could not be rebuilt.
This is not an unlikely scenario. Hanzawa’s did burn down in 1974, and when the even more famous Hasegawa General Store in Hana burned down, it never was rebuilt (though it reopened in another building).
Second, in Daniells’ view, the store had to grow to meet the changing demands of the sparsely populated Haiku area. Hanzawa’s is the only retail outlet for miles in any direction, and the only place for miles to get gasoline. (It also is one of the few places left where you can pump up your tires for free. Gasoline provides about 30 percent of the store’s revenue.)
While Hanzawa’s is not as all-encompassing as Hasegawa General Store in remote Hana, it still tries to be many things to many people: You can buy stiff Levis, select from an unusually extensive wine list for a country store, or buy arugula.
A sign over the gas pumps gives something of the flavor of the place: “MILK, BEER, ICE, WINE, EGGS, DIAPERS.”
Tom Brown, who has shopped at the store for about 12 years on visits to Haiku, said he lives in rural Washington, “but we don’t really have anything like this. They are nice people, like a real old-time general store.”
Daniells said that if she could have expanded, she would have added more natural foods, more deli foods and more modern equipment to make the store more efficient.
Klingman said he wants to add more made-to-order snacks, like chili dogs and chili and rice, “things Hanzawa used to do but kind of got away from.”
And he wants to make it a fish market, something Upcountry hasn’t had since Dickie’s Upcountry Fishery closed in Makawao.
Klingman operates the Strike Zone, a 43-foot charter boat, out of Maalaea, which he will continue to do. With his own catch and fish caught by people he knows, he plans to stock his grocery store.
The Klingmans, like the Daniellses, were at a transition point. Mollie Klingman is retiring as a lieutenant in the Maui Police Department. Sue Klingman has left Snorkel Bob’s, where she was a manager. Sue Klingman will be the “person out front,” Dana said, while he will be working in the back.
He has not operated a grocery before, but in the early ’80s he had Waikea Cafe in Wailuku, which catered to tour boats, so he knows about food service.
Sandy Daniells said she knows the Klingmans will maintain the local, community feel and service of Hanzawa Variety Store, but, “I do feel frustrated. We had really good intentions for the community.”