KTA, the Hub for Living Hilo Style

Monday Musings from Melinda

By LHS Contributor Melinda M.

Enough homage to a mainland store! Hilo’s got something pretty special in its homegrown KTA (KTA = Koichi and Taniyo Taniguchi, the store’s founders). This signature supermarket of our community is generating a lot of attention right now as it celebrates its centennial year. That’s 100 years of providing local produce to local people before it became a movement. 100 years of being a de facto community center where you see your aunty, elementary school teacher and that neighbor you’ve been avoiding all at once. And 100 years of changing with the times just enough to stay current but not too much to stop feeling like home.

KTA has been a first job to thousands and a solid career for hundreds. They give presentations at schools and host school field trips (in addition to sponsoring poster contests!). They also give back to the community through donations, opportunities, and entertainment.

Appropriately caught in shades, Uncle Derek is a Hilo celebrity, as is Makena who has grown up in front of the Living in Paradise cameras!

And does any other supermarket have an executive who is a community celebrity like Derek Kurisu is in ours? It’s hard to imagine. He’s a celebrity in part because he hosts KTA’s super popular community cable show. Non-Hilo readers might wonder, how can a supermarket’s cable t.v. show be “super popular?” Well, part of the reason is Uncle Derek’s charm and infectious laugh. But the other part is that the show features children and groups from our community, so we all tune in to see our keiki, our friends’ keiki and sometimes ourselves!

KTA is our family’s and community’s go-to for all things Hawaii Island: meat, dairy, produce, poke, and even omiyage.IMG_9512Theirs is the sheet cake at most celebrations and the pupu at most get togethers.

At KTA, you’ll find everything from tabis and tofu to prosciutto and poi.

Sure, there are other supermarkets in Hilo but none that are from Hilo or that inspire the kind of loyalty Hilo people describe. Instead of writing 100 things I love about KTA (to keep with their centennial theme), here are the top 10 things I love about KTA:

  1. Seeing old friends say hello to each other
  2. Local milk
  3. Deals on wine
  4. Franks Foods sliced Portuguese sausage mega pack
  5. Teri beef plate fundraisers
  6. Service to community
  7. Ahi poke bombs for lunch on occasion
  8. Grass-fed, local meats
  9. Coupons at register
  10. Fish counter: specifically spicy ahi poke and kim chee edamame
    What’s that? A Trader Joe’s bag in KTA?  Typical.

    Thank you, KTA, for being a part of Living Hilo Style and making me feel, in the words of your slogan, like “someone special every day”! What are your favorite KTA foods or experiences that make you feel like someone special every day?!


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