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Daiei bows out after three decades in local business

Date Posted: 2005-11-24

The neon lights went off, customers, then staff filed quietly out, and the shutters came down on Daiei supermarkets.

After 30 years in business locally, the Naha and Urasoe Daiei stores succumbed to the pressures of competition and closed their doors Sunday. Daiei supermarkets had a solid reputation in both locations, as thousands of customers flocked to the stores not only for shopping, but for the camaraderie and entertainment. The amusement park on the roof was nearly always crowded with people. Laughter was always evident.

Now, the era is ended and 325 employees are without jobs. Daiei management is working to place those employees in new employment, and has set up a special employment office to support the men and women whod dedicated themselves to the stores. A Daiei official says about 25% of the employees have already found new jobs, but the rest are still looking.

What comes next for the four-story buildings? Who will take over and move in? Nobody knows. Community leaders are hoping for another major company to step in and fill the void, but there have been no takers yet.

There is interest, says one businessman. We would be very interested in getting the place, but not all of the building. The first floor is all we need. The second, third and fourth floors are too much for us. The owner, on the other hand, says We want to rent all of the building to one vendor.

The final irony was a lone taxi driver who remained at the taxi stand in front of Daiei Sunday night. He sat and watched the darkened building long after the people had gone, reflecting upon the clientele hed built at the site over many years. Tears in his eyes, he shook his hand and muttered that progress is not all it may seem to be.

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