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StarBulletin.com

Business stays low key but ahead of the curve


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Midtown Radio is one of those pillar businesses of Waipahu, changing so little that even its name dates back to 1947, when Toshio Yamamoto decided to use his correspondence-class degree in electronic repair to sell radios as well as fix them. Even though the location changed four times, the store was always roughly in the middle of Waipahu, beginning on Depot Road.

And it has always been a family project, even though the store expanded to newfangled devices such as TV sets and appliances. In 1972 the Yamamotos also opened Disco Mart in Waipahu, which sells furniture. Toshio Yamamoto died in 1992, and wife Yoshiko 87, manages the Midtown Radio outlet. Daughters Eunice Soeda and Marjory Funasaki are sales and general managers.

“;Midtown Radio and Disco Mart have been part of Waipahu for a long time,”; said Soeda. “;Always the same family. There are times when it hasn't been so easy, but the way we do things—low key—is still working.

“;My father was ahead of his time in many ways. He always carried the new products. And he created what we call a mission statement today: Customer service and low price. Even in the recession, we haven't had to lay anyone off.”;

Soeda was filled with horror at the idea of being photographed. “;We're humble background! I guess we should network and all that—but we don't need to jump ahead 10 steps. We take things one step at a time.”;

Father Yamamoto was ahead of his time in another way. He named his new store Disco Mart in 1972, long before the term became a musical description. The reason is lost in family history, although they think it is most likely a contraction of “;discount.”;