Iconic Record Store Now Serves New Community


Iconic Record Store Now Serves New Community

Earlier this year, Hawaii’s oldest record store moved to Honolulu.

Owners Ward Yamashita and Dennie Chong announced in July they’d be moving Hungry Ear Records from its original storefront in Kailua to its new home at University and King — 2615 S. King St., Suite A-100, to be precise.

It’s been a busy few months for Ward and Dennie since then. They held a soft opening in August, and now have everything in place to officially celebrate the big move. Hungry Ear’s grand opening celebration runs all week through Saturday, Nov. 1, featuring 20 percent off everything in the store (except electronics, gift certificates and event tickets).

This move means good things for Honolulu, because through changes big and small, Hungry Ear has remained one thing: a neighborhood gathering place.

Back in the summer of 1980, three friends founded what would soon become an institution for Kailua. When Luke Yamashiro, Dennis Chun and Reynold Yap opened the doors of Hungry Ear Records at 418 Kuulei Road, the iconic storefront welcomed its surrounding community and became a friendly home where music, conversation and memories thrived.

Hungry Ear Records celebrates the grand opening of its Honolulu store through Nov. 1 ROGER BONG PHOTO

Hungry Ear Records celebrates the grand opening of its Honolulu store through Nov. 1 ROGER BONG PHOTO

Hungry Ear has been through a lot since that summer. Four locations, the reign of vinyl, the rise of the cassette, followed by the compact disc and back to vinyl again (albeit accompanied by the Internet revolution, which has allowed us to download, stream, shop for and store music no matter we are in the world).

In 2008, Ward and Dennie took over. Both grew up with the store and were employees when it first opened.

“We wanted to continue the store that gave us our start,” Ward says. “There are so many people in and around the local music community who have worked at Hungry Ear, and we like that the store has always tried to support that community,” he adds.

So far they’ve succeeded in a number of ways, big and small — the biggest being the annual Hawaii Record Fair, which they’ve organized for the past three years. Local merchants congregate to sell records, tapes and CDs to masses of music-hungry people.

In smaller ways: Hungry Ear offers a place for people to escape their daily duties and browse thousands of records, meet a fellow reggae or blues fan, find a new favorite album or get advice on setting up a stereo system.

It’s also a place people have stories about. When Ward and Dennie announced they’d be leaving Kailua, comments poured in on Hungry Ear’s Facebook page.

“Gentlemen. The end of an era is always a sad and solemn occasion, especially when it pertains to such a Kailua icon which so many of us grew up with and cherished,” Peter Davis commented. “I am sure your new location will bring with it a host of new opportunities.”

“I spent a great many afternoons there, digging through music, talking with so many lovely people. Hungry Ear shall always be my corner store in Kailua, even when you are elsewhere,” wrote Tracy Hodges.

“We have a lot of hopes for our University location,” Ward says. “A lot of things have changed over the 35 years we’ve been in business, but the big constant has always been a focus on customer service.”

For more from Roger, check out his blog at alohagotsoul.com.