NAPILI - After 20 years, Napili Market's first and only manager has retired.
Dennis Shimomura's last day was Friday, March 2, but he will come in to help train his replacement.
"I will definitely miss my fellow associates and interacting with our customers. Working with your associates on a daily basis, you can't help but feel family," he said last week.
Dennis Shimomura retired from his manager’s job at Napili Market last week Friday.
"Through constant interaction with your customers, you build a friendship not only with your regulars but also with your visitors. It is a wonderful feeling."
A lifelong West Sider, Shimomura was born in the old Pioneer Mill Plantation Hospital in February 1948. The hospital was located on Front Street near Papalaua Street, where the Hard Rock Cafe and Ruth's Chris Steak House sit today.
He grew up in the Honolua Plantation Camp until age six. Then, in 1954, the family moved to Napili.
"At that time, there were only about five homes in the area. The kids from Kahana on to Honokohau Valley attended Honokohua School. The school was located where the Ritz-Carlton (Kapalua) hotel is at. We had less than a hundred students when my class of eight graduated," he recalled.
Shimomura then attended Lahainaluna High School, graduating in the 137-member Class of 1966.
"We were - and still are - a very close class. We get together frequently, and most of us stay in contact through e-mail," Shimomura explained.
His LHS counselors, Henry "Bruno" Ariyoshi (who would later become principal) and Ethel Young directed Shimomura to Eastern Washington University in Washington State.
"It was the perfect school for a 'country kid.' The people were very friendly and accommodating. It also allowed me to participate in the Hawaiian clubs, two fraternities and four years of ROTC," he said.
After graduating from college, the Army sent Shimomura to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana, for officer basic training and to Germany for another three years.
On April 14, 1975, Shimomura joined the Sullivan Family of Companies, which today operates more than 150 locations in 12 states, including Foodland Supermarket Ltd. in Hawaii.
After opening and managing Kahana Pantry in 1975, the company assigned Shimomura to open and manage Honokowai Superette in October 1976.
"On January 11, 1992, we opened Napili Market. I have managed this store since then," he said.
Napili neighbor Ray Turkovich has known Shimomura for 18 years. He said the friendly, even-keeled manager has a major impact on his employees.
"It's just a different atmosphere," Turkovich said, with locals becoming friends with workers over the years.
Shimomura said the small market that serves Kapalua, Napili and Kahana residents has a neighborhood feel to it and a friendly atmosphere.
"I think that the locals and visitors alike feel comfortable that Napili Market is in their neighborhood," he explained. "We call each other by name and talk about family, community happenings and events, sports...
"Our customers are already sitting or visiting outside when we open at 6 a.m. They like to visit with each other or with associates while shopping. This kind of interaction continues throughout the day until closing. This is a great community, and Napili Market has truly become an integral part of it."
Turkovich talks story with Shimomura and other employees each time he shops.
He said Shimomura has a "wealth of knowledge" about West Maui from growing up in the area.
"Without a doubt, I have made many friends working at Napili Market," Shimomura said.
"Whether they are associates of the company, vendors, local customers, visitors... I have definitely made many friends through my career - friends that I will always remember and hope to remain connected with for the rest of my life."
Shimomura plans to catch up on home projects, work part-time, fish, travel, golf, "take up my friend's offer to learn the slack key" guitar and dedicate more time to the Hawaii Nature Conservancy.
Turkovich said Shimomura is a "heck of a nice guy," and it will be different going to the market and not seeing him there.
Retirement will also be an adjustment for Shimomura.
"Quite frankly, it scares me that I will really miss what I have been doing for 37 years and all the people that I interacted with on a regular basis," the retiring manager said.
"There are no words to describe how wonderful all my fellow associates, customers and others that I have dealt with have been to me. I will truly miss them all. Although I am retiring from the company, I will always remember the friends I have made."