HONOLULU (KHON2) — The notices of stores closing downtown have become far too common. First, the two Longs Drugs called it quits; and just last month, Walmart closed its doors.
But a familiar name reopened in the Bishop Street space Longs Drugs left behind as 88 Mart.
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The 88 Mart General Manager Jasmin Ochea said many customers are already familiar with the grocery store.
The new location is owned by the previous 88 Supermarket owners in Keeaumoku. The market and other businesses in the area had to close to make way for a new residential high-rise.
Ochea said it was a busy soft opening, “Super busy before 10 o’clock. A lot of customers, people waiting outside.”
The new location will fill some of the community’s needs. The Downtown and Chinatown Neighborhood Board Chair Ernest Caravalho said he is glad to see the space being occupied by a new tenant.
He said, “It shows everyone that downtown and Chinatown are coming back to life, slowly but surely.”
But he also said there is still the need for other goods, such as a pharmacy.
Downtown workers and residents said they hope the 88 Mart fills some of the voids the Longs and Walmart left behind.
It is still unknown what will eventually replace the commercial space once occupied by Walmart. The retailer owns the Fort Street Mall property. The Hawaii Commercial Real Estate President Jamie Brown said it is very likely the company will sell that location.
Brown said, “I would think now that they made the decision to close that store they would probably sell it.”
For some businesses, opening a location downtown comes with some risks. Many stores have to deal with shoplifting.
Ochea said they have hired several security personnel, and their presence is visible. There is one security employee at the entrance while other staff members walk the aisles.
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Ochea said, “We would like our customers to feel safe and also the employees; so, that’s why it is very important, the security.”