Busy Hawaii: Centuries-old hardware store weather challenges from internet, major competitors, and the pandemic

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LIHUE, Hawaii (KHON2) – Tanaka hardware will soon celebrate its 107th anniversary on the garden island.

The little shop is tucked away on Kalena Street. Customers can find virtually every hardware tool and more they need in it.

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“We have a complete sheet metal workshop. We do custom welding, manufacturing and chain links, ”said Lori Koga, 4th generation owner, of the many services they offer.

Koga said there’s something special about a locally owned hardware store that the big boxing company down the street just can’t compete with.

“We know our customers who come to us. We ask, ‘How is your aunt? How’s Grandma doing? How are you baby?’ and we know the family. They know us, ”said Koga about her customer service.

In addition to excellent customer service, Tanaka Hardware stocks old parts that many large stores do not have.

“Having been here for over 100 years, we know what the community needs,” said Koga. “They come in and say, ‘Oh, this faucet is 30 years old.’ ‘Oh no problem. We have this part. “

However, there are many challenges that come with running a small business.

“My grandparents had to move, find a bigger location,” explains Koga. “My parents had to computerize, and then they took care of the big boxes that were pulling in down the street. We had storms. We’ve had big hurricanes, you know, and today we’re dealing with the World Wide Web. We are dealing with a COVID pandemic. ”

The pandemic was by far one of the greatest obstacles Tanaka Hardware faced.

“It was hard. It was so hard when COVID first started,” said Koga. “There were a few nights when 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 its loyal customers.

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“We’ll keep working hard for them,” said Koga. “Not just for my customers, but for my ancestors who paved the way before me. You did the hard work. You know, and they did that. So that I can continue to do this. “


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