1980: Alice Gouveia

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Alice Saito Gouveia was born in 1918 in Keahua, Maui, where her father was an independent pineapple grower. She moved to Haiku when she was 13 and lived with her uncle, who was a storekeeper. In 1948 she opened the Economy Store in Lower Paia, running the shop for nearly 30 years.

WN: You said that when you first opened, you attracted lot of Filipinos, and lot of Portuguese after you got married to your husband, yeah? Was it mainly because of what you sold that attracted Filipinos and Portuguese?

AG: In the beginning, Filipinos as a whole, if you treat them right, they are very faithful. The Hawaiians, also. Well, Japanese are more.... They stick to one. But, later on, they all came my way. I had all nationalities in the store.

WN: When you first started in 1948, what was, for example, one day, your gross volume of sales?

AG: About fifty dollars, yeah? Fifty dollars.

WN: Okay. Later on, seven years later when you added that open vegetable case, and you were selling pork and fish and so forth, about how much?

AG: Went up to, maybe, about $500. Big, yeah. Five hundred, yeah, about that.

WN: When you closed the store in 1975, about that time, about how much?

AG: Well, some days, was $1,000-something,

WN: When did you start to notice a decline in your sales?

AG: When the big markets came up. I guess, distance. Oh, let's see, when people started to work in Lahaina. Like before, they thought, Oh, it's so far to go to Kahului or Wailuku ... Then, they start working in Lahaina, distance don't mean anything today.

WN: What about when Dream City came up, and people started moving out of the camps?

AG: Oh, that's when we felt it, also. That was, I would say, between five and ten years after I started the business.

WN: So, all the merchants, did they start to feel it? Start to get slow?

AG: Yes. Some have given up. Right now, well, Paia isn't too bad because there are a lot of these Mainland folks moved up Kaupakalua-- where we used to be--and Haiku way. These are the kind of things-- they eating my apples especially, now. Then, I say, “0h, did you pay for your apple?”  “No, this, I don't need to pay for it because God made this.”  And I say, “0h, is that so? Well, when God pays my expense, my taxes, and my electricity, and whatever--the day God pays me--then, you can help yourself. Until that day, you must pay for your things.”