Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

The Closing of Tower Records

Tower Records Closing

Tower Records Closing

The entire Tower Records chain consisting of 89 stores nationwide announced bankruptcy liquidation 3 weeks ago. All stores are now in having their final liquidation sale. CDs and DVDs are 25 to 30% off their regular, high retail prices. It is quite funny that prices of previous bargain bin CDs have risen before the closeout discounts took effect. People are waiting for deeper percentage cuts, though some artists and sections are already selling out.

The old brick and mortar Tower Records stores are victims of file sharing, digital music download stores (iTunes) and big box, discount retailers such as WalMart, Best Buy and Circuit City. This series of photos were taken at Hawaii’s oldest Tower Records store on the corner of Keeaumoku and Makaloa Streets in Honolulu. I’ve been shopping at Tower Records for more than 20 years. The closing of this venerable institution will certainly be the end of an era for every music fan in Hawaii and around the world. Aloha Tower Records.

Daiei Stores Officially Don Quijote

Don Quijote Store - Kaheka Street

Honolulu’s former Daiei Store officially reopened this past Friday as Don Quijote (DQ or “Donki”) stores after an extensive remodeling and reimaging of the Kaheka Street store was completed. Thousands of shoppers as well as the curious flocked to the former Daiei store. People came to check the new layout as well as the expanded product mix over the weekend.

From everything I read, the Friday morning Grand Opening was a crowded, busy affair. The store opened in grand style with a traditional Hawaiian blessing as well as musical entertainment that reached a climax with a concert appearance by ukelele wizard musician, Jake Shimabukuro.

Due to my work schedule, I did not venture to the new Don Quijote Store until late that afternoon. Things were still very busy long after the live entertainment ended.


Well, the autumnal equinox occurs on Friday.

Summer offically ends and we all know that ghosts & goblins, turkeys, Saint Nick and Father Time are rapidly approaching.

Here on Mau’i, we are in the September doldrums. Very few tourists. Its a well kept secret that this month has the best weather of the year, hotels and condos are offering discounts and the various activity businesses have cut their fees to the absolute minimum. Anything to draw people in.

Newcomers to the tourist indrustry are now learning why all of us old-timers stash money away during the busy times. You have to if you plan on paying your bills and eating during the lean times.

My good buddy, Tammy, the bartender at Neptune’s






An interesting article in yesterday’s (2006-08-31) Mau’i News. Their statistics don’t exactly “jive” with whats happening on the street but it is still good news. People in other service industry functions are always asking me how business is going. This isn’t for small talk, it is really networking to see if abberations in their sector are just transitory or can a trend be detected. Every sector of the visitor industry has unique peaks and valleys that do not necessarily reflect the overall trend of business. Only when all segments experience the same ups and downs can a true reflection be garnered. What we do look for is two or more sections of the economy showing identical patterns. This can then be used to predict what is coming down the road in the near future. Statistics tell us what has happened. Networking tells us what is going to happen.




My Favorite Honolulu Neon Sign

Like Like Drive-In Sign

There are a lot of pictures to capture in the night around Honolulu. One of my favorite recent night shots is that of this sign marking the landmark eatery “Like Like Drive-Inn.” They sell a lot of saimin here as well as a wide variety of other coffee house style meals. My favorite is fried rice and hamburger patty….

The restaurant is located on the corner of Keaumoku & Kanunu Street across from the WalMart store in Honolulu. For those living outside Hawaii, you pronounce “Like Like” like this: “Leaky Leaky”.

Image shot with Canon Digital Rebel 300D SLR.

Daiei, Don Quijote

Daiei Tonight

One of my favorite stores in Honolulu that I have been shopping at has been Daiei. I have shopped for groceries and other items there for more than 20 years. Old timers will remember Daiei as the old Holiday Mart Store. Both incarnations were good. The store has offered a wide variety of grocery items as well as exotic Asian foods and merchandise.

With its new owner taking the reigns, things are beginning to change. The Kaheka store is being re-arranged with several departments moving to different locations within the store. New, higher shelving is being installed, and the aisles are getting narrower. From what I have read before, the high shelving and narrow aisles are characteristics that typify Don Quijote’s stores in Japan. The product mix is supposed to be varied too. Haven’t seen that happen so far.

Whatever they do with the store, I can only hope that they continue with the mix of grocery items, Asian foods and in-house take out food operations.

The photo above shows the Kaheka store with the current Daiei signage.

Snippets from the SBH Mid-Year Conference


Small Business Hawaii held their Mid-Year Conference yesterday (June 22) at the Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki. The conference featured speakers from the government sector including heads of the Department of Labor, Commerce & Consumer Affairs and the State Tax Department. Several political candidates made 2 minute speeches stating why the small business community should support them. Business speakers spoke on the recently suspended gas cap law and the restaurant services industry. The keynote speaker was State Attorney General Mark Bennett, who spoke on tough crime measures that were passed this year as well as a bad constitutional amendment question that voters will have to consider this fall.

State Tax Director Kurt Kawafuchi touched upon the upcoming general excise tax issue stating that neighbor island customers may not have to pay the extra .5% of the Oahu county surcharge to the G.E.T. under certain conditions. This was news to me.

Barnaby Robinson, owner of Kahala & Nimitz Chevron reminded conference goers that Hawaii consumers are presently enjoying a break from having to pay General Excise Tax on a gallon of gasoline. That break will come to an end at the beginning of 2007 when the GET will be reinstated to gasoline purchases at the higher rate of 4.5% for Oahu consumers given the fact that the county surcharge to pay for fixed rail will also kick in at the same time. This will increase the cost per gallon by at least 15 cents he says. OUCH! Rail sucks.

Two 2nd congressional district candidates showed up at the SBH conference. State Senator Colleen Hanabusa currently representing the Leeward Coast of Oahu is making a bid for the 2nd congressional seat being vacated by U.S. Representative Ed Case, who is going head to head this year against U.S. Senator Dan Akaka. She along with State Senator Bob Hogue from Kaneohe, are two candidates running in this race who actually live in the 2nd Congressional district. The crowded field of candidates include several who do not reside in the 2nd district but still making a run for the seat because the law says they can. We’ll see what happens this fall.

State Attorney General Mark Bennett touched upon the judicial triumphs this past legislation session that included the passage of tougher laws that punish criminals including the “three strikes” statute that mandates a 30-year prison sentence for repeat offenders, a stronger wiretap law and increased emphasis on prosecuting sexual predators, especially those who use computers to entice and commit a crime. He also warned conferees about the judicial mandatory retirement age repeal law that is being proposed as a constitutional amendment this fall. This amendment is a Democrat party proposal to stave off mandatory retirement of certain judges that were appointed before Governor Lingle took office in 2002.

Link: Small Business Hawaii
Photo: State Attorney General Mark Bennett speaks at SBH conference.

Small Business Hawaii’s Mid Year Conference

One of the organizations that I am active in is Small Business Hawaii. The 30 year old business advocacy organization will be holding its 2nd annual Mid-Year conference this coming Thursday, June 22 at the Ilikai hotel. Here is their press release announcement:

The second annual Small Business Hawaii (SBH) Mid-Year Business Conference, “The 2006 Legislative Impact on Small Business-and Opportunities in the 2006 Elections” will be held this Thursday, June 22 at the Ilikai Hotel in Waikiki, Pacific Ballroom, 9 am to 1:30 pm. Rick Hamada of KHVH radio will be the program M.C.

The conference will include a review of the past legislative session-including the gas cap, taxes and labor issues- by top state officials who deal with business and tax issues, and State Senators Colleen Hanabusa and Sam Slom.


Are You GO! for $39?


The big news for the traveling public in Hawaii is Go!, a new interisland air carrier that started flying paying passengers on June 9 with their fleet of 3 CRJ 200 50 passenger mini-jets. Go! is owned and operated by Mesa Airlines which does business on the mainland under a number of monickers for other airlines.

Go! made their announcement with a big splash in March when they unveiled a $39 one-way fare for travel to any island on their schedule. Both Hawaiian and Aloha Airlines quickly matched the $39 fare with Island Air not too far behind into the fray.

Days before Go!’s launch, they again upped the ante in the “fare war” when they introduced a $19 promotional fare, which was quickly matched by Hawaiian Airlines only. A day before Go! started flying paying passengers, and after they had supposedly sold all their $19 seats, Aloha Airlines dropped “da bomb” by giving away 1,000 free ticket vouchers to customers who waited in line at Honolulu, Lihue, Kahului, Kona and Hilo airports on the morning of Go!’s launch.

Needless to say Aloha Airlines won the P-R battle that morning as the local TV newscasts gave live coverage to all of the people standing in line at Honolulu International Airport eclipsing Go!’s debut.

You gotta love capitalism. Hawaii residents haven’t seen this kind of interisland fare pricing in years. Surely it will be tough for all of the interisland airlines to maintain the low fares while trying to pay the bills and stay profitable. Seriously, Go! is probably here to kill off one of their competitors. Time will tell what will happen.

In the meantime the public and myself gets to enjoy the ride!

Links to Hawaii’s interisland airlines:

Graphic above: Go!’s website advertising their current low fare.

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