Jaggers to close in Paia town

Longtime shopkeepers bid farewell; business taking over the retail space to sell island home goods and gifts

Jaggers Boutique occupies its longtime place along Hana Highway in Paia town in this photo taken earlier this month. After 30 years of operation, owners Rebecca “Becky” Kikumoto and Joyce Yee are handing the keys over to the new tenant, SoHa Living, on June 10. The Maui News / DAKOTA GROSSMAN photos

PAIA — The owners of Jaggers Boutique in Paia said they “had a good run,” but that it’s time to pack up shop.

Rebecca Kikumoto and Joyce Yee will be closing their store after 30 years of business, passing the baton to the next generation of retail business women of SoHa Living.

“We were here when there was hardly a street light,” Kikumoto said. “There was hardly anything as far as businesses, so we’ve kind of grown with the town.”

The two-story building located in the historic sugar plantation town of Paia was built in the 1930s. Kikumoto and Yee have owned and operated Jaggers since 1985, but said that they are now ready for retirement. They said that business was mostly steady over the years in comparison to other properties that seem to have had a high turnover recently.

“We have no complaints,” Kikumoto said while reflecting on 30 years of operation.

Aloha attire fills the interior of Jaggers Boutique. Since May 5, the owners of Jaggers have continued to drop prices on their merchandise in hopes of cleaning out its stock.

“Paia is very dependent on location and we have a prime location right here, so that’s why I think we were able to make the income to pay for the rents of what would be paid for right here,” Yee added. “Some other places I wonder about.”

Kikumoto and Yee said that the secret to a long-lasting business is having a good, honest and hardworking relationship with your business partner, saying that they “never fight.”

Their third partner and the mutual friend who introduced them, Gala Craftsow, had a share in the business for the first 14 years before moving to California. She was also the one who gave the store its name, Jaggers. The bottom of the sign reads: The North Shore Legend.

“When (Craftsow) first put up the sign, I was like, ‘Geez, we just got here and we’re already legends?’ “ Kikumoto said with a laugh. “But as it turns out, we’ve been here for a while.”

Yee, a mother of two, graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, while Kikumoto attended the University of Utah and UC Santa Barbara. Kikumoto later owned a retail store called Wailea Wicker for eight years prior to opening Jaggers.

Kikumoto and Yee met through Craftsow before they all decided to start the business together.

After the two partners bought Craftsow’s share, they have watched Paia evolve from a small town to a busy retail strip of restaurants, galleries and shops. They have seen it grow into one of the top windsurfing capitals.

“Everything is branching out now. It causes more industry and creates more jobs for people,” Yee said. “All these sports are for younger people, so it’s attracting all those types of people.”

Kikumoto and Yee said that their merchandise targeted the elder population, which was a “special niche” among the surf shops and junior clothing.

They also enjoyed the many conversations with customers that floated in and out of the store.

“Paia is in a really good cross section,” Kikumoto said. “You get people from all over the island here. . . . You get people from all over the world.”

However, with new businesses trying to appeal to the younger audience and the changes in the economy, the partners said that they have noticed a slight decline in sales in the past three years.

Kikumoto and Yee could not disclose what they initially purchased the building for in 1985, but the current market price is $2.8 million, according to Commercial Properties of Maui.

June 10 marks the date when the owners of Jaggers officially hand their keys over to the new tenants, but they said that store may close June 5 to give them time to move out. A going-out-of-business sale started May 5, and the owners will continue to drop prices every weekend until the final days.

SoHa Living, the business that will replace Jaggers, was founded in 2002 by two sisters who were born and raised in Hawaii. They currently operate 12 stores throughout the state, selling locally manufactured home goods and gift items with a tropical island theme.

In retirement, Kikumoto and Yee said they will be traveling, volunteering, visiting family and gardening.

“Yeah, we’ll miss it,” Kikumoto said. “But we’re definitely ready to move on.”

* Dakota Grossman can be reached at dgrossman@mauinews.com.