Business

Most Irresistible Shop Sold After 37 Years

October 24, 2013, 12:08 PM HST
* Updated October 25, 4:26 PM
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Tracie Yoshimoto was six when the first “Most Irresistible Shop” opened in downtown Hilo 37 years ago.

She and her mom went many times to the Keawe Street store for the unusual collection of gifts and toys it stocked and the infectious charm of its owner, Sally Mermel.

Mermel owned the Most Irresistible Shop downtown for 37 years and for six of those years she also owned a second Most Irresistible Shop in Prince Kuhio Plaza, where, coincidentally, Yoshimoto was employed as marketing director.

With her own toddler son in hand at the time, Yoshimoto rekindled her childhood memories at Mermel’s Most Irresistible Shop in the Plaza. “We shopped a lot in her store for Thomas Trains, Beanie Babies and lots of other things,” Yoshimoto said.

One day about seven years ago, Yoshimoto was in the original Most Irresistible Shop, which had moved to its current location at 256 Kamehameha Ave., when Mermel mused aloud about selling the business after a good long run. Mermel wasn’t really serious then, but Yoshimoto, never before a retail store owner, couldn’t resist saying, “keep me in mind if you do,” and gave Mermel her number.

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This July, still holding onto Yoshimoto’s number, Mermel called and asked if she was still interested.

most-irresistible-shop

Sign overhanging the sidewalk of the shop at 256 Kamehameha Ave. Photo by Hunter Bishop

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Yoshimoto gasped. “I’d have to think about it,” she said. But easy decisions get made quickly, especially with the encouragement and support of Hawaii County Councilman J Yoshimoto, her husband.

Owning her own business had long been Yoshimoto’s secret desire. “It’s been my dream inside … I haven’t shared with people.”

The transaction papers were signed Tuesday in the office of attorney Peter Kubota. Terms were not disclosed.

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“I’m excited, a little overwhelmed,” Yoshimoto said.

Mermel, after 37 years in the forefront of the retail business, will help ease her successor in as she eases out, though she’s sure Yoshimoto has what it takes.

sally-mermel

Sally Mermel has sold the Most Irresistible Shop, which she founded 37 years ago in downtown Hilo.

“Her heart lives in Hilo,” Mermel said. “She has aloha for people, and a real strong sense of this place. She knows marketing, has lots of energy and great ideas.

“There a sense of fun in me and she gets that, too,” Mermel said. “She’s the perfect successor.”

Four employees were held over, including Carole Makanui, who’s been ringing up sales at The Most Irresistible Shop since nearly the beginning, over three-and-a-half decades.

One of the few changes Yoshimoto plans is to create a web presence for the store and start connecting with customers via social media. “We need an online presence,” she said.

“And it’s important to keep our loyal customers and to continue that mix with visitors. I want to keep that balance. I really admired what Sally has done.”

“This was my baby,” said Mermel, soon to turn 70. “Peter Kubota had it right, I think, when we were signing the papers.

“It’s much more like an adoption than a business sale.”

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