Find out why Waikiki’s sundry stores are so popular.
Every traveler knows that sinking feeling you get when you realize, after checking into your hotel following a long flight, that you forgot your toothbrush. Every beachgoer knows what it’s like to finally find a spot on the sand, after battling parking lots, only to dig through your bag for sunscreen and come up empty-handed.
But here in Waikiki, those feelings are only as fleeting as the amount of time it takes to walk to the nearest convenience store—which, as you have likely noticed, probably isn’t very far from wherever you picked up this magazine.
Whether you’re looking to stock up on snacks before an around-the-island adventure or fuel up for a night out, any one of the convenience stores around town will have you covered.
According to the Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing, the concept for these types of shops originated in Texas in the 1920s when a Southland Ice Company store started carrying items to cater to customers who needed to shop after the grocery stores had closed for the day. The idea soon spread throughout the company, and meanwhile, other similar concepts began to take hold throughout the country. These stores thrived, it seemed, on the increasingly fast-paced American culture and rise in the popularity of automobiles. These new hybrids were like general stores for the modern world.
In accordance with the rest of the country, convenience stores became popular in Waikiki around midcentury—an era when the streets of Waikiki were just beginning to bustle with a hint of the rush that was to come. The stores thrived—and continue to thrive—on the visitor industry, providing a much-needed service to Waikiki’s ever-changing population.
Perhaps nobody explains the pervasiveness of convenience stores in the area better than ABC Stores director of public relations Neil Ishida.
“When you walk out of a hotel when you are visiting Hawai‘i, your time is very valuable, and your budget is, too,” Ishida says. “You are looking for something that is reasonable, convenient and familiar.”
Here’s an overview of some of the convenience stores you will find around Waikiki: