Hawaii that works hard: 100-year-old hardware store survives challenges of the internet, big box competitors, and the pandemic

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LIHUE, Hawaii (KHON2) – Tanaka Hardware will soon be celebrating 107 years of business on Garden Island.

The little shop is tucked away on Kalena Street. Customers can find virtually all the hardware tools they need here, and more.

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“We have a full sheet metal shop. We do custom welding, fabrication, chain links, ”said 4th generation owner Lori Koga of the many services they offer.

Koga said there was something special about a local hardware store that the big box company down the street just couldn’t compete with.

“We know our customers who come. We ask: “How is your aunt? How is grandma? How’s baby? ‘ and we know the family. They know us, ”Koga said of their customer service.

In addition to the exceptional customer service, Tanaka Hardware offers old parts that many big box stores don’t have.

“Since we’ve been here for over a hundred years, we know what the community needs,” Koga said. “They come in and say, ‘Oh, that faucet is 30 years old.’ ‘Oh no problem. We have this part.

However, running a small business presents many challenges.

“My grandparents had to move out, find a bigger place,” Koga explained. “My parents had to computerize themselves, then they took care of the big box stores that were setting up on the street. We had thunderstorms. We’ve had major hurricanes, you know, and today we’re dealing with the World Wide Web. We are facing a COVID pandemic. ”

The pandemic has been by far one of the biggest hurdles for Tanaka Hardware.

“It was tough. It was so tough when COVID first started,” Koga said. “There were nights I didn’t know what to do.

Even now, the company is still grappling with pandemic issues like supply chain issues and shipping delays.

Despite the challenges, Tanaka Hardware is preparing to celebrate 107 years in business, all thanks to their loyal customers.

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“We will continue to work hard for them,” Koga said. “Not just for my clients, but for my ancestors who blazed the trail before me. They worked hard. You know, and they did that. So I can continue to do so.


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