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CHING YOUNG, whose formal name was Ching Yuk Hom, emigrated from the Chung San District of China at the turn of the century. He settled in Kapaa with two other brothers and was a partner with other immigrant Chinese. Together they ran a mercantile store and restaurant, known as “KWONG CHONG KEE.” In 1906, CHING YOUNG and one of his brothers leased a small parcel of land from the Wilcox family and began a small general merchandise store and rice mill in Hanalei. By way of a traditional Chinese Matchmaker, he met and wed his wife, Dang Ha Ching. The newly wed couple settled in Kapaa, where their first two daughters, Florence and Ellen were born. Her wedding garments are on display at the Kauai Museum.
With a sense of adventure and with the intent of improving life for their family, CHING YOUNG and his family moved to Hanalei in 1911 to assume full time operation of the rice mill and general merchandise store. He renamed both operations as the CHING YOUNG STORE and the CHING YOUNG RICE MILL. While in Hanalei, Mr. and Mrs. CHING YOUNG were blessed with six additional children.
Hawaii’s developing economy in the early 1900’s required hard work and discipline. Every child had duties and worked from a very young age, helping their parents with the retail and milling operations. During the rice growing years in Hanalei, the mills or retail stores acted as the bank for many farmers. Groups of farmers would affiliate with a rice mill or retail store. During the year, the store would provide the family with merchandise. At the time of the rice harvest, they would bring their rice to the mill and accounts would be settled. If it were a bad harvest, the store would have to carry the account for another year. The mill would often be unable to sell all of the rice and would have to either take a loss or stockpile the rice until the market improved.
Tragedy hit the Ching Family with the onset of the Great Depression. MR. CHING YOUNG suffered a major stroke in the early 1930’s and was incapacitated. In October of 1933, CHING YOUNG passed away, leaving his widow to run the operations and to raise her children; the youngest child was only four years old in 1933.
With a strong sense of work ethics and family values, Mrs. Ching Young and her children continued the work her late husband started. They continued to operate both the Ching Young Store and Rice Mill after her husband’s death. By the 1930’s California had become a major rice producer. Rice was on the decline in Hawaii. Mrs. Ching Young was often unable to sell the rice she took in from the farmers. Mrs. Ching Young often had to sell her jewelry to keep the operation going. The Chinese only accumulated 24-carat gold since they knew it would hold its value during difficult times.
War hit Hawaii in 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. All shipping from the US mainland to Hawaii was halted. All supplies to the island, especially rice was in high demand. The surplus rice supply and the Ching Young Rice Mill provided the island with its need for rice.
Mrs. Ching Young was able to provide for her family and educate all of her children. Florence Ching Takase had a successful career in the travel industry and accumulated several apartment buildings in Honolulu and California. Ellen Ching Wong graduated top of her University of Hawaii class and taught in the public school system for many years. Dora Ching Morishige owned and operated Hanalei Liquor Store for many years until her retirement. Laura Ching Lum retired as a lab technician. Lawrence L. T. “Larry” Ching developed the current Ching Young Village Shopping Center. Douglas L. P. Ching is a retired Electrical Engineer and settled in California. Calvin L. K. Ching, a MIT graduate, was a former County Engineer and operated his own Civil Engineering Firm. And, Janet Ching Webster is a retired City of Los Angeles Clerk.
In 1950, Mrs. Ching Young retired. She sold her store to her eldest son, Lawrence and his wife, Jennie Pang. A friend once asked Mrs. Ching Young, how she was able to raise a family of eight and educate them. She responded it was through hard work, Chinese Traditions, and her deeply religious faith. Mrs. Ching Young always maintained a Taoist alter at home and would often consult with the Eight Immortal Temple, located in Hanapepe.
After her retirement, Mrs. Ching Young remained active. She enjoyed many trips to the mainland to visit her son and daughter and traveled throughout the to the Orient, visiting friends and relatives. She spent part of her time in Honolulu, where three of her daughters settled. In 1960, a friend from Florida called her asking her for some of her recipes for Chinese Cooking. Mrs. Ching Young was on the next flight to Florida, cooked up a banquet and returned home after a week’s visit. As a mother, friend, and community businesswomen, Mrs. Ching Young was an outstanding and exceptional American Citizen. Mrs. Ching Young passed away in 1967 at the age of 80.
Meanwhile, Larry along with his wife and two sons, continued the operation of the Ching Young Store. In the 1950’s and 60’s, the local economy was changing. It was the hay day of the Sugar Industry. Larry and Jennie made changes to take advantage of the new industry. The store was changed to cater to the local sugar workers. With the onset of the 60’s, tourism became the driving force in the economy. Changing again to meet the needs of the new economy, Larry and Jennie renovated the store and added the Hanalei Post Office to serve both the local community and the emerging visitor industry. In the 70’s both of Larry and Jennie’s sons returned from the mainland after graduating from College. Steven became a schoolteacher in the public school system and their second son Michael worked with them in the store.
In the late 70’s, the Retail Store was sold to BIG SAVE FAMILY OF MARKETS, a locally owned and operated grocery store chain. This freed time up for Larry, his wife Jennie, his two sons, and other business associates to plan and develop the current shopping center to meet the needs of a growing Hanalei Community. A decision was made to retain the old building found to the east of the property. The Ching Young Village Shopping Center was completed in 1982.
In 1992, a category 4 Hurricane named Iniki devastated Kauai and damaged nearly 40% of the Shopping Center. Ironically, the original Ching Young Store (built in 1906), suffered some damage, but was not totally destroyed. It became a family affair, settling with the insurance company and rebuilding the shopping center. Nearly two years later, the whole center was rebuilt and the families of shop owners were able to continue their businesses.
Emerging from a humble village in southern China, CHING YOUNG embarked on an adventure that would result in the CHING YOUNG VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER. Larry Ching passed away on September 7, 1997. CHING YOUNG VILLAGE SHOPPING CENTER is now managed by Larry’s son, Michael, a third generation of CHING to reside in Hanalei.