GARY T. KUBOTA / GKUBOTA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Clifford Uno and his mother, Grace, work behind the counter of the Maalaea Store, which will close sometime this month. Grace Uno is talking with family friend Dan Kawahara.
Maui hangout closing
The Maalaea fishing store is a favorite
for hot dogs by the harbor
MAALAEA, Maui » A family store founded right after World War II and known for its hot dogs, old-fashioned bottled Cokes and fishing supplies is closing at Maalaea Harbor.
Family matriarch Grace Uno said she does not know exactly when the Maalaea Store will shut its doors, since it is still selling off its hardware goods, but she said it will probably close by the end of the month.
Uno, 80, said one reason for closing was the death about a month ago of her daughter Kathleen, who had cancer. Kathleen was in charge of selling the fishing supplies.
Her son Clifford retired several years ago, and her youngest son, James Jr., plans to look for another job.
The store was founded in 1946 by Grace's husband, James Uno Sr., who bought the building and land from an uncle at a period when large commercial fishing vessels still plied Maui County waters and the island's primary industry was agriculture.
On a window above the entrance is a 1940s sign advertising "Hot Dogs" and products from Dairymen's Ice Cream.
Outside on the store porch are flat wooden seats where customers sit with their hot dogs, soft drinks and chips and watch the harbor boats and occasional passing vehicle.
Inside the store was an array of marine items, before the recent clearance of its inventory, including emergency night flares, silicone grease, surfboard wax, spools of fishing line and rods and reels.
"I got my first lures here," recalled Michael Morrison. "It has always been a fun place to stop."
Corey Valdez, a tow-truck driver, said he is a regular visitor at the store, buying hot dogs and all kinds of lures for shoreline fishing, and he is unhappy about the closure.
"We're losing all our local stores," he said.
The store, aimed at serving local residents and fishermen, came with a harbor kind of personality.
Its founder James Uno, a Japanese American from California who was interned during World War II, enjoyed the independence that came with running his own business and speaking his own mind.
In the early 1980s, Uno publicly criticizing the Coast Guard for building its station in front of his store and blocking its harbor view without a public hearing or federal environmental impact statement. He did not like the idea of the federal government being exempt from its own laws.
Grace said her family has made peace with the Coast Guard since then, and its crew members have been good people who help watch the store when the family is not there.
Uno, who wakes at 5 a.m. and sits behind the counter periodically to rest between customers, said she enjoyed working at the store but that she is getting too old.
"I'll miss my customers," she said.