Your Sweet Tooth Belongs To ‘Sugar Crush’

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Memories of sweet cravings from the past just got a little easier to satisfy in Keaau.

Sugar Crush, a new candy story, opened two weeks ago in Keaau Plaza, where Verna’s drive-in used to be across from Keaau Middle School.

Owner Andrea Ota loves candy and serving the community, so she’s creating a nostalgic kind of candy-store feel in her first retail venture.


Retro candies like liquid wax bottles and “Boston Baked Beans” line the shelves at Sugar Crush in Keaau. Photo by Hunter Bishop

Jar after jar of old-time goodies line the shelves along one wall where stalwart penny-candy favorites like Necco wafers, Mary Janes, candy cigarettes, “Boston Baked Beans,” salt-water taffy and dozens more tempt young and old alike. And if you don’t see what you like, tell Andrea. She’s more than happy to find the supplier for your particular craving.

Ota said she named the store Sugar Crush after a level of play in the popular online game Candy Crush Saga. “It’s addicting,” she said, just like her sugary confections.


Ota went into business for herself because “I love candy, and I love my community,” she said.

A 1997 Waiakea High grad, Ota doubles as a community-based provider for Easter Seals of Hawaii. But she took her brother Marc’s advice and leased a newly renovated space in the Keaau Plaza, right across from his store, Paka’s Smoke Shop.

Ota started her store with community service in mind, and she’s already offering sweet incentives to all students who earn academic distinction, not just for grades, but for awards such as student of the month, or citizen of the quarter, she said.

Ota also hosts in-store parties for birthdays and other celebrations.


Also popular is the “Sandy Candy” table where kids of all ages make “art you can eat” by filling clear plastic tubes with edible “sand” in 38 colors. The trick is to pour in the “sand” to your creative mind’s satisfaction before yielding to your hungry mind’s desire to eat your masterpiece.

Ota has also adopted the Hello Kitty product line and features a growing assortment of consignment gift items.

W.H. Shipman Ltd.'s newly renovated Keaau Plaza is now fully occupied with tenants.

W.H. Shipman Ltd.’s newly renovated Keaau Plaza is now fully occupied with tenants.

The parking lot was recently repaved, drainange improved and the buildings refaced to enhance the “plantation feel” that Shipman wants in its Keaau properties, said Bill Walter, president of W.H. Shipman Ltd., owner of the property.

The company invested “several hundred thousand dollars” on the upgrades and the commercial units are now all leased, Walter said. A mailbox service will be moving in to fill the last opening next door to Sugar Crush in the former Verna’s building.


Walter said Sugar Crush will complement a “good variety of services” in the plaza which includes a fresh-bread bakery, tavern and restaurant.

“We try to see the whole village,” said Walter. “It looks and feels a lot better.”

Meanwhile, Ota said a “Shave Ice Corner” in the front window Sugar Crush is coming soon, along with an expanded snack line, including crack seed, popcorn and cotton candy.

Sugar Crush is open seven days a week: Mon-Fri 9-7, Sun 9-5. Call 966-7000.

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