After 41 years, beloved owner of iconic crack seed store celebrates retirement
HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) – There were hugs, kisses and even some tears Tuesday as the longtime owner of the iconic Crack Seed Store in Kaimuki said a fond farewell with his family.
He’s retiring after 41 years ― and handing the business off to someone else.
All day, customers squeezed into the tiny shop in Kaimuki to get crack seed, local snacks and fan favorite: Li hing mui ICEE.
Sally Kawamura rushed in to get two pounds of king mui for her aunty in California ― and to say goodbye to longtime owner Kon Ping Young and his wife, Fun Tang.
The nostalgia and memories brought tears to her eyes.
“When I was going to school, the number 14 bus would stop here so now it’s like oh! The Crack Seed Store is not going to be the same,” said Kawamura.
Young says the good news is that that new owners are taking over New Year’s Day ― and he’s passing on his secret recipes.
As a special treat, he didn’t ring in any sales Tuesday. The family gave away treats for free.
The Youngs brought their children and grandchildren to the store for their last day.
“You know like everything else things do come to an end so I’d rather have a good ending than a bad ending so that why we’re doing it,” said Mr. Young.
After years of memories and even a spot on the Travel Channel, the couple is full of gratitude for their customers love and loyalty.
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"I’d rather have a good ending than a bad ending so that why we’re doing it."
Meet the new Crack Seed Store owners
“Uncle” Kon Ping Young’s last day with his Kaimuki Crack Seed Store was Dec. 31, but yesterday, new owners reopened the iconic neighborhood snack shop without skipping a beat.
Young didn’t announce his retirement until it was time, nor did he put the store up for sale. He wanted his successors to understand the deep-rooted significance of the store’s offerings and its place in the community. Crack seed is an old-school, hanabata-days kind of snack, and you can’t mess with the legacy of that kind of venue in that kind of neighborhood.
As it turned out, he used the same distributor as Sing Cheong Yuan bakery on Maunakea Street, and she knew they’d be perfect to seamlessly take over Crack Seed Store upon Young’s retirement. They sell the same products in Chinatown; the big difference is that they focus more on the Chinese New Year seeds and candies, whereas Crack Seed Store’s main commerce is the li hing mui, whole seeds and kakimochi. Same same but different.
Young shared his recipes and techniques with Mei Fang and her family so they can continue to provide the same love by the pound (or half pound, or quarter pound, as the case may be), but since they share many of the same products, there wasn’t much of a learning curve.
Indeed, as I stood in the store yesterday, hoping to get a family photo for this blog, the traffic was nonstop — everyone from regular customers to kids on break to tourists flowed through the store. Some people were happy to see that the Fangs had taken over; some people hadn’t even heard the news about Young’s retirement and asked where Uncle was.
Overall, though, you can expect to get the mui, kakimochi, cuttlefish and any other favorite snacks from Crack Seed Store without a hitch. Since the Fangs own Sing Cheong Yuan, it’s natural that they will add peanut candy, gau, and other Chinese New Year treats to the product mix, and will eventually offer their bakery items (like manapua). And yes, that famous Icee, available in strawberry, blue vanilla and cola with the scoop of wet li hing sauce in the middle, will remain.
"Uncle" Kon Ping Young's last day with his Kaimuki Crack Seed Store was Dec. 31, but yesterday, new owners reopened the iconic neighborhood snack shop without skipping a beat. Young didn't announce his retirement until it was time, nor did he put the store up for sale. He wanted his successors to understand the deep-rooted significance of the store's offerings and its place in