Albert and Wallace Teruya


Name Albert T. Teruya
Born February 6 1913
Died July 21 2002
Birth Location Honolulu, HI
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Name Wallace T. Teruya
Born January 23 1915
Died July 13 2005
Birth Location Honolulu, HI
Generational Identifier

Nisei

Nisei businessmen who founded the Times Supermarket chain in Hawai'i.

Background

Albert and Wallace Teruya were born in Honomū on Hawai'i Island and were the eldest sons of six children. Their parents, Ushi and Kame Teruya, were Okinawan immigrants from Oroku who arrived to work on the sugar plantations. Ushi Teruya was employed at the Honomū Sugar Company before he moved his family to Nīnole where he was an independent sugar cultivator. Albert Teruya was the first of the brothers to come to Honolulu in 1929 at the age of fifteen and worked as a dishwasher. Wallace arrived two years later as "he was looking for other opportunities," explained his son Dexter.[1] "(He) didn't want to work as a farmer in a canefield." In 1935, the Teruyas opened their first business venture leasing a lunch counter for $850 in the Lewers & Cooke building in downtown Honolulu. The T&W Lunchroom served breakfast and lunch and while Albert cooked, Wallace worked the counter. In 1937, the two brothers opened the 24-hour restaurant Times Grill, a name that symbolized "keeping up with the times" and it would be a name that would transferred to the supermarket chain they would later establish.[2]

World War II

When war broke out, Wallace and his younger brother Herman joined the 100th Infantry Battalion where they fought in Europe. Just like his older brothers, Herman also possessed an entrepreneurial spirit and was interested in the grocery business. Even before he left for war, Herman had worked for small grocers around town, trying to learn more about the business. Wallace remembered that while they were at basic training at Camp McCoy in Wisconsin, Herman would use his furlough pass to study grocery stores and examined their operation. "He was a groceryman at heart," Wallace recalled.[3] In July 1944, however, Herman was killed in action in Italy, when he and two other soldiers were in an abandoned farmhouse relaying information to the infantry by telephone when the Germans shelled the structure, killing everyone. The brothers had been separated in war and it took a number of days before Wallace learned that his brother had been killed. "I didn't know he was killed," Wallace recalled.[4] "But one day, Kenneth Mitsunaga (of Dog Company) came by. He told me, 'You heard about it...Ey, your bother got killed, you know.'" Upon hearing that news, Wallace broke down in tears and cried and Herman's dream of opening a grocery store would be unfulfilled.

The Establishment of Times Supermarket

When Wallace returned from war, the brothers never forgot about Herman's aspirations and were already considering their next business endeavor. In 1947, they sold their restaurant and began planning to open a supermarket. For a few years, the brothers worked at various markets around town and visited different businesses to study the store layout. As Wallace recalled, "To get experience or some knowledge about marketing, supermarketing, we went to visit different markets such as Piggly Wiggly, Chun Hoon Market, K.T. Kwai [Meat and Grocery], National Market, and also Central Market. And also places in the country, Wahiawā, and other markets to get some kind of experience."[5] In April 1949, they finally opened the first Times Super Market on South King Street in McCully. With the help of family members and the willingness to work 18-hour days restocking shelves in the early mornings and late evenings and tending to matters that they were unable to get to when the store was open, the brothers were able to succeed. In explaining their work ethic, Wallace Teruya stated, "We felt that each customer was important, and they were greeted with a 'hello' and assisted whenever and wherever needed."[6] In 1956, the Teruyas opened their second store in Wai'alae-Kāhala with a plaque dedicated to Herman who had died during the war. "We went into the market business because of him," Albert explained. "When we put the plaque up there, we felt much better--that he knew we remembered him."[7] Eventually the Teruyas would open eleven more stores in 'Aiea, Beretania, Kaimukī, Kailua, Kāne'ohe, Liliha, Royal Kunia, Temple Valley, and Royal Valley plus two markets in the now closed GEM stores. The two brothers eventually turned over the leadership of the market to Wallace's sons, Raymond and Wayne although both Albert and Wallace would regularly visit the company offices in Kalihi and attend to business at the various markets. Customers would recall both Wallace and Albert helping customers by bagging groceries or gathering carts outside in the parking lot. In 2002, the Teruyas sold Times Super Market Ltd., to Northern California-based grocery store operator PAQ.

Throughout their lives both Albert and Wallace supported various community organizations including the 100th Infantry Battalion Veterans Club, the Kalia Lions Club, Jikoen Hongwanji Mission, the Kuakini Foundation, Oroku Azajin Kai, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, the Hawai'i United Okinawan Association, and Mid-Pacific Institute. Albert passed away in 2002 and was survived by his daughters Arlene Kozuma and Lorraine Yoshioka; and sons Elton and Galen.[8] His brother, Wallace, died three years later and was survived by his wife Ethel; daughter Rosemarie Love; sons, Raymond, Wayne, and Dexter; brother, Robert; sisters, Barbara Teruya and Doris Uyehara; and nine grandchildren.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, University of Hawai'i

For More Information

Times Supermarket website: http://www.timessupermarkets.com/

Chapman, Don. "Teruyas." Midweek, Sept. 4, 1996.

Footnotes

  1. Loren Moreno, "Wallace Teruya, A Founder of Times, Honolulu Advertiser, July 23, 2005, accessed on April 11, 2016 at http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Jul/23/ln/507230341.html.
  2. Mary Vorsino, "Spreading Aloha to Workers, Customers," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sept. 29, 2002, accessed on April 11, 2016 at http://archives.starbulletin.com/2002/09/29/special/story23.html.
  3. Karleen C. Chinen, "Albert T. and Wallace T. Teruya," Hawai'i Herald, September 2, 2011, 25.
  4. Karleen Chinen, "Herman's 'Store,'" Hawaii Herald, June 19, 1998, C-25.
  5. University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Center for Oral History, The Oroku, Okinawa Connection: Local-Style Restaurants in Hawai’i (Honolulu, Hawai'i: Center for Oral History, Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa), 211.
  6. Vorsino, "Spreading Aloha."
  7. Chinen, "Herman's 'Store.'"
  8. Mary Vorsino, "Businessman Led Grocery Chain With Loyalty, Warmth," Honolulu Star-Bulletin, July 23, 2002, accessed on April 11, 2016 at http://archives.starbulletin.com/2002/07/23/news/story17.html.