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Family kept mom and pop store moving forward for 96 years


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    HAWAII COUNTY, Hawaii (KITV) — On the island of Hawaii, just north of Hilo, in the sugar plantation town of Pepeekeo, a little store with roots dating back to the early days of Hawaii life is about to disappear.

Jana Soli, part of the fourth generation to run the Low Store, says the family is ready to move on. “We have grandkids and the next generation of the family coming up, so it’s time to move into the next phase of life. So although it’s been an incredible experience to have the store and serve the community and meet a ton of visitors from around the world, they’re very excited to retire. They’re ready for it.”

The building has hosted several businesses throughout history. “My Great Grandmother founded the store in 1925. It was a gas station for a really long time; it was an auto mechanics shop, it functioned as an arcade, then it was a movie rental shop. It’s been a general store a couple of different times.”

Soli’s Great Grandmother, Agnes Low, who built the store – was better known in the community as an educator. “She was a teacher at the Pepeekeo grade school across the street, which is now a park. People knew her as Mrs. Low, and she was very strict.” She laughs.

Over the years, four generations of Low family and Carvalho family members ran the businesses, including a 1970’s TV Star. “Clement Low was my Great Uncle who ran the store. He was a really talented musician.”

And growing up in the family business still evokes warm feelings for Soli. “Some of my best childhood memories are visiting the store. I wasn’t allowed behind the counter until I was 14 because that was a strict rule. Still, as soon as you were allowed to work behind the counter, it was really exciting to be able to ring up customers and give them their shaved ice and ring up their different threats and stuff.”

Today, traffic is bypassed to Hawaii Belt Road, and faster cars make shorter commutes to town. But Soli says her little plantation town is still a lot like it’s always been. “Pepeekeo is an amazing place, family-oriented. It has very strong ties to the plantation days and our past. We’re just thankful for all the families that have chosen to shop with Low Store over the years in whatever phase it’s been in; we just want to say thank you.”

The property is listed with Yamanaka Enterprises at around $330,000.

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