Sueoka’s Store History
It was Mankichi Sueoka’s dream to provide a good life for his wife and children that led this poor immigrant from Japan to start his own business
in Koloa, Kauai. In 1918, Mankichi borrowed money from his “tanomoshi” group to open a small store in the Koloa Japanese plantation camp. With his wife, Yoshi Sueoka, at his side, Mankichi worked tirelessly at the camp store.
The camp store was in a convenient location for many of the sugar plantation field laborers. Because they would have to pass the store on their way home from the fields, they would stop by to purchase food and supplies. Besides serving the Koloa camp community, Mankichi Sueoka took orders from people as far away as Lihue and Kealia. He even made home deliveries to them on his horse-drawn wagon.
In 1933, Sueoka Store moved to its present location in what is considered the “heart of Koloa town.” The store was located in a building that originally housed the Kauai Motors car showroom, and later the Bishop Bank (First Hawaiian Bank) and Mitsunami Store. Mankichi Sueoka leased the Mitsunami half of the building from Dr. Alfred H. Waterhouse, and later was able to lease the whole building when Bishop Bank moved out. Eventually Sueoka purchased the property and renovated and modernized the building. In this location, Sueoka Store evolved from a general merchandise store selling tools, dry goods, mercantile goods, etc. to a grocery store with fresh produce, a meat/seafood department, and a snack shop selling plate lunches and hamburgers.
Today, Sueoka Store and Snack Shop is still a family-run business. Mankichi’s children—Edith Sueoka Hashiguchi, George, Ernest, and Lily Sueoka—worked at the store. His grandchildren, Wendy Kawaguchi, Rod Sueoka, and Charlene Rivera, his great-grandson Dean Mori, and a dedicated group of workers, carry on the tradition of providing friendly, personal service with good products at reasonable prices