Many retailers not rushing to re-open on Kauai, Hawaii Island


Certain Hawaii island retailers, and the majority of Kauai retail stores were given the green light to re-open business on Thursday, May 7.

Governor Ige issued the proclamation, and County mayors made their own decision on when and what types of retailers could re-open.

KHON2 called several retail stores on Hawaii and Kauai on Friday and the majority said they were still closed. Most plan on re-opening this weekend, others said they are keeping their doors closed indefinitely.  

On Hawaii Island, Mayor Harry Kim said certain businesses could re-open on Thursday including jewlery stores. However, Big Island Jewelers in Hilo said they aren’t rushing to re-open before Mother’s Day,

“Most fine jewelry stores, or any retail business in general, would want to open up as soon as possible especially for a holiday like that,” said Chase Carpenter, lead goldsmith at Big Island Jewelers. “We wanted to pause and just be really cautious of our internal operations.”

He said it’s important for the buyer to touch and feel the fine jewelry that they hand craft.

“We have to be cautious of how people are going to be interacting with [the jewelry] and cleaning because unfortunately, the virus interacts with certain surfaces differently and different metals hold the virus longer than others,” he said.  

Carpenter said the store will re-open on Monday, May 11.

Surf stores on Hawaii Island were also allowed to re-open on Thursday.

Orchid Land Surf Shop did just that.

“Actually, a lot of people are coming in,” said owner Stan Lawrence. “Very few tourists, it’s all local business right now thank goodness. Everybody’s really happy that I’m open and I’m happy to see them, let me tell you,” he said.

Lawrence said he requires all customers to wear a face mask and he’s following new guidance regarding how many people are allowed in a store at a time.

He said his store is about 1,000 square feet and he will lock his doors once three customers are inside.

On Kauai, clothing stores were given the okay to re-open on Thursday.

The owner of Blu Umi in Hanapepe said she’s been following safe practices since they closed back in March.

“In early March we instituted a sanitation station,” said owner Keiko Napier. “People can sanitize their hands and then we have paper towels right next to the door so no one has to touch the door on the way out with their hands.”

She said she’s happy to be open for business again. “Really excited because we have a month and a half of really great new stuff in the store,” she said.

Maui County retail stores will re-open on Monday, May 11.

The owner of Driftwood Maui in Makawao said she has mixed feelings re-opening again.

“We’re not going into the same economy we left off in,” said owner Carrie Gebb. “Nothing is the same, we’re going to have to learn how to handle our customers in a different way and a lot of our policies on dressing rooms and exchanges and returns will be different. We’re still just trying to figure out what we’re going to do.”

With lack of tourists and many residents out of a job, all of the business owners said they don’t expect people to flock into their stores.

“I feel like we’re going to be looking at maybe 15% of our usual business, which isn’t enough to survive on,” said Gebb.

“I’m taking it day by day and hoping for the best and trying to make smart financial choices and I hope we can weather the storm until we can move back into a stronger economic place,” she added.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he will allow retail businesses on Oahu to begin re-opening on May 15.

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