Business

Local Pepe’ekeo Store to Close Up Shop

By Tiffany DeMasters
June 3, 2021, 10:51 AM HST
* Updated June 3, 11:18 AM
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Pepe’ekeo’s Low Store is closing its doors on Friday, June 4, after nearly 100 years of business.

The owners decided to close up shop to fully retire and pursue other endeavors.

“It’s been really bittersweet,” said co-owner Jana Soli. “It’s hard to say bye to those we’ve seen day in and day out. It’ll be sad to not see our customers on a weekly or daily basis, but we’re also excited to see what life has planned for us next.”

Soli, 30, who owns the store with her parents, said her mom plans to work as an artist full-time. Soli is returning to school and will be entering an MBA program at Duke University.

For the last two days of business, the store will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The kitchen will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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The store has been in the family for four generations, established in 1925 by Agnes Low. Originally built as a gas station, it’s changed with the community based on the needs over the different decades, Soli said. From an auto mechanics shop to an arcade, the business now operates as a general store, restaurant and fruit stand.

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“The store has always been in the hands of the women in the family — inspiring women to lead the way,” Soli said. “It’s really incredible to be part of the community and provide something meaningful. Getting to know neighbors and the community at large it’s a special thing.”

Like all small businesses, the Low Store suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Soli said, they were able to hone in on what they do best and be a safe community-based store for residents.

Soli noted small businesses and mom-and-pop shops are important for the communities they operate in.

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“We wanted to thank everyone who has shopped with us and also let everyone know how meaningful it is to shop small,” Soli said. “It makes a direct impact on your community and those in it in amazing ways.”

Soli got involved with the business in 2008 and began managing it more full-time in 2015. However, the 30-year-old said, she and her siblings have helped out at the store since they were kids.

While growing up on the mainland, Soli said, they would visit family on the Big Island every year. During their visits, Soli and her siblings spent time in the store.

“We fought over who would dust the shelves,” Soli recalled. “When we were 14 we could run the cash register. It’s been a really exciting thing to be a part of.”

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat.
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