Marukai’s main store in Gardena on Aug. 30. (TAKASHI ISHIHARA/Rafu Shimpo)

By TAKASHI ISHIHARA, Rafu Japanese Editor

Marukai, a supermarket chain that 11 stores in Southern California and Hawaii, and serves primarily Japanese, Japanese American and other Asian American customers, will be sold to the Japanese discount store Don Quijote, it was learned on Aug. 30.

An agreement has been reached for Don Quijote to acquire 100 percent of Marukai’s stocks, effective Sept. 30. Even after the sale, Marukai’s operations will continue as before.

Established in 1980, Don Quijote has more than 250 stores. Together with Nagasakiya, it established a holding company for its overseas businesses in Singapore, and the acquisition of Marukai’s stock is being done through the U.S. branch of that corporation.

Don Quijote has been in Hawaii since 2006. By taking over the Marukai stores, it is expected to greatly expand its presence in the U.S.

According to Kenny Enomoto, facility manager for Marukai’s main store in Gardena, after the store opens under a new parent company on Oct. 1,  the name and the operations will remain unchanged. He added that the membership system and the employees will still be the same, so customers will not notice any major differences.

Headquartered in Nishi-ku, Osaka, Marukai Corporation was founded in 1938 as an import company specializing in food, sake and general goods. It set up operations in Hawaii in 1965 and established Marukai Corporation USA, whose current president is Hidejiro Matsu.

In 1981, Marukai’s first store on the mainland opened in Gardena, specializing in groceries and household goods. From then on, the corporation expanded the number of stores as well as the variety of items offered.

Marukai has high name recognition among Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans. In addition to the customers from the local neighborhoods, there are those who make regular shopping trips by bus or carpool from as far away as San Diego, Santa Barbara and Oxnard.

At the Gardena store, the weekends and the days leading up to New Year’s are especially busy, with the large parking lot filled to capacity from the time the doors open in the morning to the time they close in the evening. Some of the reasons for its popularity are the wide variety of items and the relatively cheap prices.

(Translated by J.K. Yamamoto)

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  1. I went to the new Tokyo Center store that replaced Marukai and was sorely disappointed! I expected a lot better and different experience. However, I think Marukai was a lot better. The new buffet stations had old, dried out food or greasy fried food.

  2. I just drove to the Marukai in West Covina and was shocked to find out that it was closed. What happened?

  3. it is reassuring to know that the Marukai markets will remain the same. It is the mainstay of Japanese American food culture. Visiting my Mom in Gardena just wouldn’t be the same if there was no Marukai Market.