Like the rest of the nation, many Maui retailers are opening on Thanksgiving Day, which one local retail expert says is "great for the economy."
"They are really excited about all the extended hours for the large and small stores. They feel strong retail is good for everyone. It's great for the economy," said Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Sheri Sakamoto of her members. "The more active the selling, the more active is the buying."
The merchants group has 200 members statewide with 2,000 stores that range from mom-and-pop shops to large national retailers such as Macy's, Sakamoto said.
Co-owner Troy Yokoyama spruces up a display at Sanrio at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center on Wednesday. Sanrio will be open at midnight Thanksgiving. It’s one of many island stores getting an early jump on the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Most stores open the day after Thanksgiving, on what’s known as “Black Friday” because stores hope sales will put them “in the black” during the all-important consumer rush to buy holiday presents.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Stuffed animals are on display at Sanrio.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Macy's is one of the retailers across the nation opening a day earlier, bucking the trend of Black Friday shopping. That's normally the day when stores open early Friday morning, after Thanksgiving, with special sales to put them in the "black" for the year. Many retailers are opening on Thanksgiving instead to get a day's jump on the Christmas shopping season.
According to the National Retail Federation, around 33 million consumers are expected to spend their holiday shopping money on Thanksgiving Day.
Macy's will open at 8 p.m. It opened at midnight in years past.
Other large retailers on Maui that will open on Thanksgiving include Kmart and Walmart. Both stores will open at 6 a.m.
Sports Authority will open from 6 p.m. until midnight on Thanksgiving and reopen at 6 a.m. Friday. Sears will open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.
Queen Ka'ahumanu Center is also taking hold of the earlier opening times for its anchor stores, Macy's and Sears by holding an "Up all Night @ Queen Ka'ahumanu Center" Black Friday event. It will feature hourly giveaways from 9 p.m. Thanksgiving through 6 a.m. the next day.
"People are actively seeking places to shop before Black Friday," said Todd Vines, the center's marketing manager in an email. "Queen Ka'ahumanu Center is focused on creating a unique, spirited shopping experience for those people."
According to material from the center, the goal of holding the promotions is to increase foot traffic in the center portion of the mall as well as keep shoppers on-site and engaged as long as possible.
Other center stores that will open at 8 p.m. include: HouseMart/Ben Franklin, Jeans Warehouse, Forever 21, Pac Sun, Icing by Claire's, Sunglass Hut, T-Shirt Factory, Pretzelmaker and Diamond Wireless.
Other stores and eateries are scheduled to open from 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving through 4 a.m., with all remaining stores open at 6 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving. Starbucks will open at noon on Thanksgiving and remain open until 11 p.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving.
The Sanrio store that sells a myriad Hello Kitty stationary, toys and other logo items. It will be open for the second straight year at midnight at the center, said a co-owner Jean Yokoyama.
Last year, Jean and husband Troy decided to give the midnight opening a try. Alone.
Last year, there was unexpectedly a line outside her store.
"It was worth it," Yokoyama said, adding that this year it won't be just her and her husband, but will include other employees as well.
"I had volunteers actually," she said. "They want to work and run away and go shopping and do both."
She's hoping for a crowd again and is offering a door-buster special, which is a big face Hello Kitty or Cinnamon Roll character cushion for $59.99. Its regular retail price is $100.
There will be other specials as well, she said.
Yokoyama said she was happy that her employees volunteered to work.
Some Mainland retail employees protested the Thanksgiving openings of their stores. Some shoppers said they won't give in to the early opening times and will instead continue to shop on Friday.
Sakamoto said that unfortunately retail employees work a lot of hours during the holidays.
But she added that it's great that people have work and that our economy needs "the boost."
Although many retailers are opening earlier this year, some stores including the larger ones are sticking to the Black Friday game plan.
Those stores include Home Depot, which will open at 5 a.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving as well as Barnes & Noble in Lahaina, which will open at 8 a.m. on Friday. Both retailers will be closed on Thanksgiving.
Sakamoto said smaller retailers might be sticking with regular Black Friday hours because their customers may not be ones needing to get a late night or early morning deal.
One of Maui's smaller retailers, My Sister's Closet Hawaii at the Maui Mall will open at 10 a.m. on Friday, and sales will run the whole day, including 50 percent off regularly priced items.
"You can come anytime and get the good deals," said owner Nikki Nguyen.
She added that she doesn't want to open on Thanksgiving or early in the morning on Friday to compete with heavyweights Walmart, Macy's and Sears.
"We are a small boutique," she added.
"I love my employees, and I want them to have sleep. I want them to enjoy the Black Friday sales and not work the sales," she said.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.