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A Mixed Reopening

Customers hope more shops resume business

Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center in Kahului had few mall-goers Monday afternoon. Most of those who did travel to the mall wore masks and kept a distance from each another. Many of the larger retailers, such as Macy’s and Sears, remained closed despite the relaxing of state and county public health emergency rules that allowed retailers and malls to reopen Monday in Maui County. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

KAHULUI — Just because retailers were allowed to reopen Monday didn’t mean they would actually do it, many shoppers learned when visiting malls around Maui.

Monday marked the first day retail businesses in Maui County were allowed to open their doors in about a month and a half after public health emergency orders shuttered nonessential businesses.

However, residents who showed up to malls Monday saw that the majority of stores remained closed at Queen Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center, Maui Mall and The Shops at Wailea.

“I thought there would be more stores open,” said Darrell Ho, who came from Makawao with wife, Alicia, to find two of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center shops they wanted to visit closed Monday.

“I’m surprised, but I do agree with stay at home and stay safe orders,” he added.

Jackie Murphy of Kihei said she was happy to find what she’s looking for at Ben Franklin Crafts on Monday afternoon. She added that she appreciates the staff being willing to work so the store can reopen and is thankful for the public health measures, such as face mask mandates. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

Kahului resident Henrietta Kekaha was at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center on Monday afternoon to find clothing at Sears and Macy’s, which were both closed.

“We hope more stores open soon,” she said. “It’s nice to be outside in the open air, though.”

Large retailers at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, such as Sears and Macy’s, along with big brand outlets, such as Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, Vans, Bath & Body Works, Amy’s Hallmark Shop, Champs Sports, Verizon and AT&T stayed shuttered Monday.

The center’s Foam Co., Zumiez, Sprint, Vitamin World, Nakoa Brand, Miko Galleries, Sew Special, Camellia Seed Shop, LensCrafters, Shapers and Ben Franklin were open.

Maui Mall reopened with only a handful of smaller retailers, such as HIC Hawaiian Island Creations and Maui Creations.

Owner Jennie Spenser (left) and employee Joann Pittam greet customers Monday afternoon at Collections in Makawao. The boutique was among about a dozen stores in Makawao town that reopened Monday morning under new guidelines requiring the wearing of masks, social distancing and regular sanitizing. The Maui News / LILA FUJIMOTO photo

The Shops at Wailea reported that only two retailers, Rip Curl and Aloha Hat Co., reopened Monday afternoon. The South Maui Shops have more than 70 retail and restaurant businesses, with select food and real estate spots that have been kept open as essential services.

Diana Whitt, general manager/vice president property management for The Shops at Wailea, said Tuesday that many retailers are looking forward to reopening and are preparing to do so but are taking the appropriate steps to reopen responsibly by following guidance from local officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She added that customers may visit The Shops at Wailea website (www.theshopsatwailea.com/) and social media pages to learn when additional Shops retailers will reopen.

On the brighter side, Kim Ball, owner of Hi-Tech Surf Sports and Shapers Maui, said that business was better than expected when he reopened Monday at all three Hi-Tech stores in Kahului, Kihei and Paia and his Shapers store at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center.

“We’re pleasantly surprised,” Ball said via phone Monday afternoon. “People are stoked to come shop.”

Ball said he had received regular calls during the shutdown from residents wanting surfboards; stand-up boards; skateboards; surf accessories, such as leashes and fins; safety equipment and other activity products.

“With unemployment and no school, there’s never been more people in the water,” he said. “And there are more people skateboarding than before.”

He said customers and staff have been following sanitation, distancing and face-mask protocols. Also, the majority of his staff didn’t mind coming back to work and were excited to be there, he said.

Ball said that his retail businesses are by no means out of the woods financially, and that the industry will suffer casualties.

“We are a candidate for casualty, too,” he said. “It depends on how long visitors won’t be able to come back to Maui.”

Ball added that Monday may have been an “anomaly” and foot traffic may wane over the next weeks. He said he is glad residents rely on the local stores, especially the Kahului location.

In Paia, many stores remained closed as well. However, a few of the smaller retailers reopened, such as Rip Curl, Nectar, Lele and Luna & Tide.

In Makawao town, about a dozen stores reopened Monday morning under the new guidelines.

When Collections opened its doors at 10 a.m., a handful of customers showed up and said they were happy the boutique had reopened, said owner Jennie Spenser.

“They said, ‘We love your store. We missed you,’ ” she said. “It does my heart good. That’s better than money.

“We just love our community.”

Under Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino’s reopening rules, retailers must require face masks for staff and customers and put measures in place for social distancing and regular sanitizing.

Also, mall food courts, play and entertainment spaces, beauty salons, game rooms, theaters and common areas must stay closed.

During a county update Monday afternoon, Victorino said that many stores are opening up around the islands but on a limited basis.

“Not many of the big stores opened,” he said. “Hopefully, in the very near future they will be opening up for services to the people of Maui County. Please, if you get a chance, go down and see what’s open at Ka’ahumanu.”

Victorino added that the county will be compiling a list of retailers that are reopening in major Maui County towns.

* Lila Fujimoto contributed to this report. Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

** This story includes a change from the original published Tuesday, May 12, 2020.

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