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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 11, 2002

Price Busters founder named top retailer

At the annual conference yesterday, Elton Tanaka, retired district manager for Sears, received the Governor's Award for Exemplary Service to the Retail Industry.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Advertiser Staff

The Retail Merchants of Hawaii honored outstanding retailers yesterday, presenting Ho'okela awards at the group's annual retail industry conference at Hilton Hawaiian Village.

As the winner of the top Ho'okela Award as retailer of the year, Beth Tom received her trophy and a kiss at the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The Retail Merchants of Hawaii named the Ho'okela Award after the Hawaiian word for excellence.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Beth Tom, president of ERT Sales of Hawai'i Inc., better known as Price Busters, received the top honor of retailer of the year.

Tom's company got its start in 1991 as a wholesaler of hair accessories and miscellaneous items. Two years later, Tom opened her first Price Busters store in Kane'ohe. During the next nine years, she would open six more stores. Since 1995, the company has grown from a staff of about 15 to nearly 200.

Also honored yesterday with the Governor's Award for Exemplary Service to the Retail Industry was Elton Tanaka, retired Hawai'i district manager for Sears.

Tanaka began with the company as a management trainee in 1972 and worked his way to district manager over the next 30 years. He has been active with the Retail Merchants organization and the retail industry overall.

Other awards yesterday:

• Kaua'i Retailer of the Year: Chicks Who Rip. Established by David Ynzunza in 1998, the company sells women's sports clothing and accessories from its headquarters in Kalaheo.

• O'ahu Retailer of the Year: Hawaii Doggie Bakery & Gift Shop. Founded by Jen Kunishima in 1998, the company sells fresh-baked, healthy Hawaiian dog biscuits and cakes, as well as pet accessories.

• Big Island Retailer of the Year: Petroglyph Press Ltd. doing business as Basically Books. Founded as a print shop reproducing out-of-print books about Hawai'i, the company started by David and Christine Reed has evolved into a specialty bookstore focusing on Hawai'i.

• Maui Retailer of the Year: Maui Clothing Co. The maker and retailer of swimwear, aloha wear and accessories — owned by Edward Wayne — has grown since the 1970s into a retailer with 19 stores, a warehouse and 170 employees.

• Resort Retailer of the Year: Sandal Tree. Paula Sussex's Step Three Ltd. is the parent company of what has grown to be six Sandal Tree shoe stores in resort locations on O'ahu, Maui, Kaua'i and the Big Island.

• Retail Employee of the Year: Patti Nakagawa, director of consumer marketing for DFS Hawaii. Nakagawa has held positions in everything from merchandising, sales, store management, consumer marketing and community relations with the retailer.

• Neighborhood Retailer of the Year: Shima's Market Inc., Waimanalo, with Ronald Y. Shima as president.