Most tourists in Hawaii want to see Kilauea Volcano's spectacular flowing lava, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and the miles of unspoiled beaches. But they also end up...
HONOLULU Most tourists in Hawaii want to see Kilauea Volcano’s spectacular flowing lava, the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor and the miles of unspoiled beaches.
But they also end up seeing plenty of ABC Stores.
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With 37 convenience stores within a one-mile radius of Waikiki, sprinkled among the beachside hotels and the Gucci and Prada stores, ABC Stores are tourist havens filled with everything from souvenirs to sunscreen.
“You can go in there and get sunblock, your breakfast, your Gatorade, whatever you want,” said Joshua Caron, of Rochester, N.Y. “I think it’s cheaper than places in the hotel. Those places are crazy expensive.”
There seems to be an ABC Store on every block in Hawaii’s famed tourist district. Four are visible at the corner of Kalakaua and Seaside avenues alone.
“It seems like there’s one every hundred feet,” said Todd Campbell, of Ventura, Calif., who bought sushi rolls, papaya and water for a day at the beach with his children. “I’ve been here four days, and I probably have been in here 10 times.”
Despite the saturation of stores, including several ABCs on the same block, every location has a steady stream of customers. “It doesn’t seem very logical (to have so many stores), but the fact that we have products that customers want and actually need, we’ve become a very needed service in Waikiki,” said Paul Kosasa, ABC’s president and chief executive, who runs the 40-year-old chain owned by his parents, Sidney and Minnie.
There are only two 7-Elevens in Waikiki compared to ABC’s 37 stores.
And tourists can’t seem to get enough of ABC’s beach mats, bodyboards, chocolates, hats, books, postcards, T-shirts, macadamia nuts, beer, Kona coffee and various kitschy Hawaiian souvenirs and trinkets such as coconut bras and $5 dashboard hula dolls.
There are also ABCs on the other Hawaiian islands and in tourist destinations as far away as Guam and Las Vegas, for a total of 67 stores.