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A sign on the Kalakaua side of this construction site announces the coming of the new Palama Supermarket in English and Korean. The grocer is moving into the most ethnically Korean neighborhood in the state, according to U.S. Census data.


If the secret to success in business is location, location, location, Palama Super Market's new store could be a goldmine, goldmine, goldmine.

The two-story, Korean-food-and-products store is being built on 29,000 square feet at the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Makaloa Street -- abutting the Daiei Kaheka parking lot.

It will be nestled amid the largest Korean population in the state of Hawaii.

In the area bounded by Keeaumoku Street, South King Street, Kalakaua Avenue and Kapiolani Boulevard, some 20.3 percent of residents are Korean or part-Korean, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

"The location is the best," said President Hyo K. Lim.

The first Palama Super Market at 1210 Dillingham Blvd. is 15,000 square feet, with an 18,000 square foot warehouse and kim chee factory in the back. The new store will have a little more than 16,000 feet of merchandising floor space and about 60 parking spaces split between two levels.

The juxtaposition of the Asian-geared stores is not a worry for either of them, according to Lim and Theresa Chang, sales and promotion manager for The Daiei (USA) Inc.

"We're focused on Korean food," said Lim's son Daniel, store manager. "We're not trying to go to war with them or anything like that. I think a lot of people think we are."

Daiei is preparing strategies for the opening of a competitor a stone's throw away from its largest Hawaii revenue generator.


"I wouldn't say (the company) is worried," said Chang. "We are already working on it, advertising product quality and service." It is "giving us a good opportunity to improve in other areas," she said.

Naturally Palama Super Market will serve the area's Korean population, but it also wants to introduce the ethnic food and products to non-Koreans, he said.

The Dillingham store is test-marketing ready-to-cook meals, with marinated meats, pre-cut vegetables and prepared sauces customers can grab and take home. The Lims expect they will be big sellers in the new store as well, given area residents' fast-paced lifestyles.

Palama's Kalakaua store will be familiar to the faithful and will include a Snack Corner serving Korean plate lunches. The Web site bears photos of merchandise and make-you-hungry plates of food at www.palamamarket.com. Weekly sale items, advertised on KBFD-TV, also are listed on the site. Customers of all ethnicities are drawn into the store by the spots, which air during Korean-language dramas, Daniel said. The company recently decided to expand its advertising and highlight its grocery and pupu selection during football games on KITV.

The new store is a return to Hyo Lim's old stomping grounds. It is steps away from his first shop at Kalakaua and Philip Street, opened 27 years ago. It was called Dae Han, which means Korea. Lim ran it for nearly 12 years before selling it, a year and a half after he established Palama Super Market on Dillingham in 1986.

The Lims purchased the Kalakaua land in 1998 but waited to develop the property for a host of reasons, including the economy.

Daiei officials have known they were coming but have faced down competition over the years and in recent times.

A Marukai 99 Cents Superstore opened near Daiei Waipahu last year and the store's sales have increased. The largest Daiei in Hawaii reworked its $1 shop into a 98-cent shop as part of its competitive strategy.

The Kailua and Pearl City Daiei stores are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. but the Waipahu and Kaheka stores are open 24 hours.

Lim doesn't appear ready to take on the big-dog hour-by-hour. The Dillingham store is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m but the new location's hours haven't been decided. Palama Super Market employs 52 people, and will likely begin recruitment for 40 employees for the new store early next year.

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I think I saw you post about the Marukai 99 cents store before. How do they get stuff there to be so cheap? :D

Will this Korean store sell goods from other Asian nations as well? I've in fact seen Chinese grocers in the GTA sell products from Jamacian and Middle Eastern cultures if they're located in the right neighbourhood.

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^Well they might sell other Asian foods to but there main goal is to sell Korean goods because well this is the Koreatown of Hawaii (which is my hood btw) and they dont want to compete with Daiei and the new Wal-mart which sells and will sell every kind of Asian stuff.

As for Marukai well its a Japanese chain based out of like Hiroshima or one of those cities but i dont know why they sell stuff for so cheap, well in actuality if you know where to go you can buy things for cheap here most tourist dont know where to go and tend to shop in Waikiki or Ala Moana which basically robs people blind rarely do the ever venture into the neighborhoods or go to open markets or flea markets etc.

As for Jamaican stuff there are Caribbean markets (Mercado de la Raza for example) outside of Chinatown and middle eastern markets along Kapahulu (El Basha) and i think in the Mccully area of town too. Theres also this one market called Yamasin which is really cool cause its a Polynesian, Micronesian, and Spanish Market kind of a trippy mix of goods... :P Theres a huge variety of stuff here you just have to know where to look or know someone from a partifular ethnic community and they can point you in the right direction.

And like our Chinatown here it was never a true Chinatown in the sense that the businesses were just or mainly Chinese or Chinese owned. There are many Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai, Cambodian, Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian, Indian, Burmese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Okinawan, Italian, Greek, etc etc businesses in that part of town. However the majority is Chinese then Vietnamese and all others.

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Well not all of Waikiki is high end mainly Kalakaua Ave Burberry, Tiffany, Coach, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Gucci, Tod's, Boucheron, Prada, etc they are all on that street. As for Ala Moana its pretty mixed but there are a ton of High end stores there too like:

Ann Taylor

Arden B.

BCBG Max Azria


Blumarine / Anna Molinari



Christian Dior


Max Mara




Gianni Versace


Bottega Veneta

etc etc are all located there

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