Wholesale Unlimited Inc.
Is your background in food or in retail? Actually, my background is in public accounting. In 1997 I was working at a company on Merchant Street when Wholesale Unlimited opened its first store. Yates (Honma), the owner, and I also had a mutual friend.
So you developed a habit for snacks? No, but my dad did. He ate so many smoked almonds that I was a constant customer at the store. When Yates and I got married in 2006, it made sense for me to work in the family business.
There are so many different kinds of snacks in your stores today. Yes, we’re always looking for new and interesting things to get people excited about.
But isn’t part of the appeal that you sell the same snacks people have been eating since they were little kids? Well, yes. We have regulars who come for the same thing, but lots of new customers are looking for something different.
What are some of the standout favorites of all time? Rock salt, plum, sweet and sour, regular li hing mui … they’re the ones that people coming back from the Mainland are craving – and our Betty’s Best Cornflake Cookies are easily a best-seller.
I use li hing mui strawberry as a very effective tool in my house to get chores done and homework finished. Are they a favorite with all kids? (laughs) Yes, and gummy worms and sour gummies, too. But you’d be surprised at how many adults love gummies, too.
Where do you like to eat when you’re not involved with the world of snacks? Yohei Sushi is a favorite, and Green Papaya on Liliha. And we love looking for new places, like the new gastropubs that are opening.
What’s always in your fridge? Hot sauces, condiments and lots of kim chee. A family friend makes kim chee for us.
Are snacks getting healthier, or are you the last bastion of unadulterated sugar and salt? (laughs) We do have a sugar-free line of snacks, and we’re working on cookies with artificial sweeteners … but, for the most part, people really like sugar and salt!