Two locally owned businesses will soon close their doors at the Lahaina Center to make way for The Outlets of Maui in Lahaina, which will take over the center space with national outlet stores in the upcoming months.
The 11-acre center at 900 Front St. is being remodeled to accommodate stores such as those open for shoppers at Hawaii's only current outlet mall, the Waikele Premium Outlets on Oahu.
"We're very sad . . . We got the boot," said Ginny Sparks, the "better half" of Glow Putt Productions owner Jim Bertoncino. "They don't want any mom-and-pops."
Glow Putt owner Jim Bertoncino and his “better half” Ginny Sparks staff the reception desk at the Lahaina Center business.
The Maui News / Brian Perry photo
Black lights cast an eerie glow from Morgann Mocherman, 12, of Seattle as she putts at Glow Putt in the Lahaina Center on Thursday. The indoor miniature golf course will close April 27 after nearly nine years at the shopping complex to make way for an outlet mall. Her father, Doug Mocherman, said the family is visiting Maui for two weeks, and he called the air-conditioned business “the perfect hot day activity.”
The Maui News / Brian Perry photo
Crews work on renovations Thursday at the Lahaina Center.
Glow Putt, an indoor glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, has been at the center for nearly nine years. Bertoncino and Sparks will close at the location April 27 and are facing the challenge of finding a place big enough to relocate their business.
After being a center tenant for eight years, Hair Salon Unlimited will be moving, too, but owner Joan Davenport has been fortunate enough to find a new location in Lahaina.
Initially, she was upset she had to move her salon, Davenport said, but "sometimes things happen for a reason."
Davenport reported finding a larger space on nearby Limahana Place. There, she will be paying the same amount of rent as she has paid at the center.
Nevertheless, she is "having anxiety" about moving, needing to pay for repairs and upgrades to her new space, plus paying rent at both spots during the transition from one shop to the other - all while coping with a recent death in her family.
An announcement Thursday from The Outlets of Maui said renovations have begun and reopening festivities have been slated for this fall. Last year, it was reported that the outlet was scheduled to open in July.
A list of retailers set to open at the outlet mall includes Coach, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Adidas, Carters, Guess, Perfumania, Luggage Factory, Tommy Hilfiger, IZOD, Crocs and Lucky Brand.
Existing center anchor tenants Hard Rock Cafe, Ruth's Chris Steak House and Hilo Hattie will remain, as well as the Warren and Annabelle's Magic Show venue, ABC Stores, Cold Stone Creamery and Wyndham.
An estimated 35 restaurants and retailers will occupy the outlet. The businesses will range in size from 800 to 17,000 square feet.
Ten existing buildings will receive "significant architectural enhancements that respect the historic character and vibrancy of Lahaina while recognizing modern-day retail expectations," the announcement said.
Improvements include landscaping, heavy timber open gables storefronts and entrances, new traditional Lahaina town color treatments, sustainable and night-sky-friendly exterior lighting and integrated branding signage.
The center's Front Street Theaters and other smaller retailers have already closed.
According to those involved with the project, the mall's buildings will be remodeled in hopes of turning around the center's historically low occupancy rate and attracting more shoppers to the tail end of Front Street's retail-visitor section.
Glow Putt owner Bertoncino said it's been challenging to find a space large enough in West Maui for his 5,000-square-foot miniature golf course, and he's looking in Kihei as well.
Business has been good at the center, and Bertoncino said he wanted to assure customers that his doors were not closing because business was bad.
"It's been a good store for us. We would love to stay. (But) nothing stays the same. Everything changes at some point," he said.
He added that his business might complement the outlet stores because it would offer husbands and children a place to play and hang out while mothers and other family members went shopping. The business attracted both residents and visitors.
Bertoncino wished the center the best, adding that he wouldn't want to have to leave if it weren't for something more positive for the shopping complex.
Sparks urged customers to use their free play cards before the business closes at 10 p.m. April 27.
Davenport's new space for her hair salon will be on the mauka side of Honoapiilani Highway at The Mind's Eye Square at 1068 Limahana Place.
Her shop at the Lahaina Center will probably remain open for another month, she said. All her stylists will follow her to the new shop.
Most of Davenport's customers hear of her through word of mouth, so being at the Lahaina Center with its high vacancy rate was not a problem, she said.
She is looking forward to being close to The Mind's Eye Interiors shop because that business attracts affluent customers, which could translate to better business for her shop.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.