S. Tokunaga: 2022 Hall of Fame Winner

The small grocery store in Hilo carried some fishing supplies when the Tokunaga family opened it in 1920. It’s evolved into a 6,500-square-foot fishing, diving, hunting, outdoor and firearm supply store.
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Michael Tokunaga of S. Tokunaga Store. | Photo: Nani Welch Keliʻihoʻomalu

“My grandfather and mom always told me to have the items to sell, offer it at the best prices you can, and give the best and friendliest services possible,” says Michael Tokunaga, who now runs S. Tokunaga Store with his wife and staff.

“We work as a team to run this business. Our employees treat the business like it’s their own.”

Community involvement has been a significant element ever since Tokunaga’s grandfather, Sumie Tokunaga, founded the store in Hilo in 1920, during the plantation era. Today, the store’s biggest community event is the S. Tokunaga Ulua Challenge, a shore casting tournament that attracts participants from across the Islands and the mainland. Unfortunately, it has been canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic.

The store has survived three tsunamis that battered Hilo – in 1922, 1946 and 1960 – and remained open throughout the pandemic as an essential business. It has relocated twice, once in 1991 and again in 2014, and changed marketing strategies and inventory over the years. Its online store now draws customers from across Hawai‘i and the mainland, Tokunaga says.

His daughter will soon graduate with an MBA and eventually become the fourth-generation Tokunaga running the store, he says.

“We want to thank the public and our customers for all the support that they’ve given us over the years and we’re looking forward to serve them in all the years to come.”



Categories: Lists & Awards, Small Biz Editor’s Choice Awards, Small Business