Like most convenience store chains ABC Stores has multiple outlets; 70+ stores that span the Pacific from the home base – Hawaii to Las Vegas, Nevada and Guam and Saipan. Owned by Sidney and Minnie Kosasa, ABC Stores had its genesis in the 30’s. Sidney grew up working in his parents’ grocery store in Honolulu and earned a pharmacist’s degree at the University of California at Berkeley in 1942.
In 1949 the Kosasas opened their own drug store, and a chain of drug stores followed shortly. On a trip to Miami Beach Kosasa watched visitors shopping local convenience stores instead of the high priced hotel shops. He envisioned that Waikiki would someday be packed with visitors, like Miami Beach, and the ABC concept was born: stores conveniently located for visitors with merchandise sold at fair prices.
He opened the first ABC store in Waikiki in 1964. He stocked food, beverages, souvenirs, drugs, and cosmetics, all things a tourist would need. He chose the name ABC so everyone would remember the name. There are ABC stores on every island, as well as Guam, Saipan, and Las Vegas. Recently, they took over operation of the famous Honolua General Store in Kapalua, Maui.
Best of all, ABC employs more than 900 people, and most are open 365 days a year. ABC Stores sells more macadamia nuts, suncare products, souvenirs and other visitor-related products than anyone else in the state. The stores in Las Vegas, downtown, and at the Fashion Show Mall, are stocked in a similar fashion.
A typical ABC store, this one on the Big Island, Kona.
It seems that ABC is the most popular store in Hawaii, particularly on Aloha Fridays. For those of you not familiar, Aloha Friday is every Friday in Hawaii. It starts around noon, and always includes a six or twelve pack of cold beer, and the beach. I lobbied for Aloha Fridays here in California for the longest time. Obviously, I was not successful.
A newer ABC store, but same prices!!
Also realize that besides the ABC Store being ubiquitous, their prices are quite competitive, and the selection s always outstanding. I wish they would be allowed at the various island airports. It would certainly make tourists aloha gifts more affordable. But as an avid imbiber of alcoholic beverages, I tend to favor another local island chain of convenience stores, The Whaler’s General Store.
Whaler’s has been around since 1960, perhaps even trying to replicate the ABC Store model. They are operating as “Shops of Hawaii” owned by the Sullivan Family of Companies, and include many other types of retail, such as Food Pantry, Lamonts, Napili Market, Oasis Lifestyle, Makana Trading, and the more upscale TRH Inspired in the Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu. So, the company is smaller, but more diverse than ABC.
You really cannot go wrong at either place. They are like the “Seven-Eleven” of Hawaii. And you can find one anywhere on the islands, so it seems. Do not ever shoplift here, the local cops come down hard on you for violating their island standard!
Seven -11 or Circle K have no chance here, plus the prices are generally competitive.