The Hygienic Store
What’s the story behind this clean-sounding name?
For many passersby, the name of this little Kahaluu convenience store can be a bit perplexing. Do they sell soap? Is it just really clean?
As it turns out, the Hygienic Store, near the intersection of Kahekili and Kamehameha highways in Kahaluu, began life as the company store of the Hygienic Dairy. Founded in 1907, it was once the largest dairy in the state, occupying the entire Ahuimanu Valley.
Photo by Cory Lum
Photo courtesy of Jackie Chong
|(Left) Recently repainted, the store was white with red trim for years, thanks to its lease with Associated Gas. (Right) Simon Chong took over the store from Hygenic Dairy in 1950.|
Jackie Chong, whose father-in-law, Simon Chong, took over the store from the dairy in 1950, remembers when the Hygienic was a full-service gas station and general store, complete with fresh meat and produce, hardware and rubber boots. “For a dollar, I’d wipe your windshield and check your oil. People would even pick up their mail at the store, because mail delivery didn’t go up into Ahuimanu Valley.”
Jackie ran the store with her husband, Edmund, for 30 years, meeting just about everyone in the neighborhood in the process. “It was a real community meeting place,” she says. “Everyone would always stop by, and we always knew who was mad at who.”
But even sleepy Kahaluu began to grow, and the Chongs were forced to adapt. “The dairy left, and they started building up at Temple Valley, and the supermarkets came up in Kaneohe,” she recalls. “We could see the handwriting on the wall.”
In the late ’70s, the Chongs leased the store to Millie Kim, who ran it with her son Michael through 2003, when So Cha Hashimoto took over. Today, the Hygienic remains a landmark of the area, even if it’s a quick pit stop rather than a neighborhood hub.