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Saturday, August 14, 2004



Times will purchase
Fujioka’s wine store


Times Super Markets will buy the Fujioka's Wine Merchants store in a deal that will put the Kaimuki vintner in charge of a revamping the supermarket chain's wine sections.

The wine store's owner, Lyle Fujioka, said Times will buy the store's wine inventory and assume the liquor license and lease for its Market City Shopping Center site.

Fujioka will continue to operate the 3,600-square-foot store under the name Fujioka's Wine Times, and will become Times' wine consultant. He declined to discuss the price of the deal.

Fujioka said he will work with Times on matching each of the chain's wine, beer and spirits sections to the demographics of the surrounding neighborhood in a repositioning that will likely bring the Fujioka's name into Times stores.

"If you look at all the big supermarkets, they're so homogenous. They all look alike. That's the problem," Fujioka said.

Previous sales data would be analyzed to give each store its own local beverage mix, but the overriding consideration would be Fujioka's focus on lower-priced, good-value wines, he said.

Fujioka will retain ownership of the wine bar he runs next to the wine store but said the bar might eventually be folded into the Times organization. He said plans might also involve the opening of wine bars within supermarkets.

Fujioka is a member of the family that owned and operated the Fujioka's supermarket outlet in Haleiwa and which has been in the retail business on Oahu since 1900. The family sold the Haleiwa store last year rather than spend large amounts of money on capital improvements to keep the mom-and-pop operation competitive.

Fujioka said he opted for the Times deal because he has been too successful. A self-professed "wine geek," he said business has grown by about 10 percent each year since he opened the wine store in 1990 and has been "crushed" by a growing administrative and accounting burden that has prevented him from doing what he loves: selling wines to people.

"Whenever the people in your back office start to outnumber those in the front, you start wondering what happened to your life," he said.

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