The Crack Seed Store, buried into the brick wall along the streets of Waialae Avenue, was the perfect definition of “less is more”. Rusty garbage disposals and the crumbled aura of the building gave the store a certain character. The second I pushed open the heavy glass door, the pleasantly familiar smell of li hing mui and wood filled my nose and brought a smile to my eager face. Memories of those good weekends with my mom flooded my brain and brought a small smile to my lips. This was our place. We would come here after getting our nails painted at the store a couple stores up the block. However, with my mom’s new job keeping her busy, we had not been able to go together in months. Taking the trip to the little store was lonely, but the thoughts of our good times together kept me company as I walked down the gravelly path to the shop’s entrance.
Unlike a typical bright, white-walled candy store, the dim lighting in the seed shop cast the perfect shadow on each treat, making each candy look even more enticing. The size of the shop allowed space for no more then five people at a time; yet, it brought about a secure feeling, not one of stuffiness or congestion. Dark green, wooden walls complimented the various bright bags of chips that hung on hooks towards the back of the shop. My eyes scanned the oversized glass jars, each loaded to the brim with different delicious treats that ranged from “sweet white li hing seed” to “li hing gummy octopus”. However, despite the tempting treats, the old, Japanese man behind the counter and his infamous ICEE machine were what kept me coming back for more.
The man’s genuinely kind spirit lit up the entire store; brighter than the whirring, red and white ICEE machine in the corner that matched his zest. The constant smile on his tan, aging face caused the side of his eyes to wrinkle making me believe that his eyes were never opened. His talkative personality drew me back to the store, time and time again. That Japanese man’s bald head stood no higher than 5’ 4”, but he owned one of the biggest personalities I had ever met. Before you told him your order, he would always chime in his Japanese accent, “Herro! What I can get for you today?”. Ignoring the jars filled with various types of li hing mui seed - which is what I usually ordered - my hands quickly pointed to the glass jar stuffed with li hing soaked
gummy worms that sat on the highest shelf, in the back corner of the store. Weaving his way through the maze of jars, he made me a small baggy of worms in an expert amount of time. Shuffling to the back of the counter, he weighed the plastic baggie on the small silver scale to the right of the register. Despite the full bag of rainbow colored li hing gummy worms clenched in my fist, my order was not complete.
Pointing to that glorious, glowing machine, I asked for a li hing, strawberry ICEE float. My mouth began to water as I watched my slim, blue ICEE cup being filled with the slushy, red drink. As if brewing a magical potion, the man’s hands darted from cup to machine to li hing to ice cream, showing his experience with each little movement he made. My eyes locked with the excess red slush that protruded out of the top of the ICEE cover. Simultaneously handing him my cash and taking a big slurp from the top of my slush float, I could not help but express my pleasure through a sigh and a smile. I turned to exit the shop that was so little, yet brought so much happiness to every customer who entered its doors.
“Come back soon, OK!?” Shouted the little man behind me. Looking back on the teeny, little shop brought a feeling of warmth over my body and I could not help but smile. This little shop, so hidden in an eerie neighborhood of darkness, shone through like a gem. Bag of gummies in my right hand, and ICEE float in my left, I gave him a slight nod and headed out, thinking of the warm feelings the store left me with. I knew I would be back soon.