Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Final Days of Circuit City

Circuit City will be closing it’s doors for good this Sunday.  They have been in the process of liquidating their entire stock since the announcement of their closing a month ago.  The entire upper floor is closed and the remainder of the stock is on the lower level.  Everything is 50-70% off and that may increase come Sunday.

A few things of note that are remaining:  Guitar Hero World Tour for Wii – $50; Dark Knight, Hancock, Smallville DVDs 50% off; Panasonic Lumix T25 camera $197.99; Canon Powershot A890 $89.99; Guitar Hero guitars for PS3 and 360 $25; Zelda Phantom Hourglass for Nintendo DS 50% off.  There is also a small remaining selection of CDs and DVDs, some DVD-Rs, printers, PC games, and other random computer things.

Good bye Circuit City and to those who lost their jobs I wish you well.


The Best and Worst of 2007

Happy New Year. 2007 has come and gone and now is a good time for a very brief review….


Hawaii Superferry 12-13-07

The Hawaii Superferry arrived in the islands and finally set sail on a close to regular schedule on December 13 after an aborted start in late August. I was so luck y as to be on that “return to commercial service” trip as a freelance photographer for a media outlet. The bumpy ride going over to Maui was memorable and the return nearly as smooth as silk.

The voyage was the culmination of my personal documentation of the Superferry as it plowed through a sea of controversy from the time it was built, arrived in the islands and subjected to court orders and a special legislative session, which in the end, cleared it for service. Today despite bad weather, the Superferry is making regular trips between Honolulu and Maui in what hopefully will be a success story for the new year.

Another highlight of 2007 was the spectacular air shows offered by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Thousands of island residents turned out to watch the government sponsored aviation aerobatics as talented fighter pilots from these elite squadrons entertained the public in their own unique way to get young people interested in a military career. I was lucky enough to snap off several hundred photos at the Thunderbirds show from Magic Island Beach Park in Honolulu.

The University of Hawaii Warrior football team was certainly made big news for islanders as they went through their football season relatively unscathed while compiling an impressive and record setting 12 – 0 win-loss regular season…. the first for the U.H., and the best and only unbeaten regular college football team in the country. The U.H. Warriors put their unblemished record to the final test today as they play for the BCS Sugar Bowl title in New Orleans against Georgia.

I Flew Go!

The local inter-island airfare war continued throughout 2007. Mesa Airlines’ Go! set the agenda for low inter-island fares that came tumbling down to $1 on one occasion. I was lucky enough to make trips to the Big Island at fare levels of $9 and $19 each way this year. The big 2 airlines, Hawaiian and Aloha hated the fare war enough to take Go to court. Hawaiian won their case and Aloha’s set for trial in April 2008. Feisty Go! is still around, selling discount fares for $39. The fare war is good for consumers and the local traveling public.

The design for the Hawaii Quarter was unveiled. In late 2008 the last in the 50 states series will be minted and feature a design of the 8 Hawaiian islands and King Kamehameha on the reverse side. While Hawaii’s quarter was to have been the last in the series, another half dozen or so new designs will also be forthcoming to commemorate the territories and the District of Columbia quite possibly in 2009 and continuing to 2010.

In late August Hawaii sky observers were treated to a clearly seen and highly visible total eclipse of the moon. I was lucky enough to capture a series of photos of this heavenly phenomenon without pesky clouds blocking my view.

Apple introduced the iPhone, iPod Touch and new iMacs. Mac OSX version 5 was also released. Apple stock ended the year at $198 per share as they became the 3rd most popular selling computer maker in America. joined the digital music fray by offering DRM-free, downloadable tracks to compete with Apple’s iTunes, which this year also offered selected DRM-free tracks from mainly Capitol/EMI. Music downloads without DRM is a good thing. Let’s hope this trend continues into 2008 and beyond.


For those who are concerned about their pocketbook, 2007 certainly got off to a very bad start. On January 1 the State’s General Excise Tax climbed from 4% to 4.5% , hitting nearly every consumer in the wallet as the cost of final goods and services are rendered. What do the public get out of the .5% (more properly read 12.5%) tax increase?

2007 Small Business Hawaii Conference

Funding for a choo-choo train line to be built by the City and County of Honolulu to the tune of at least $6.4 billion dollars. This will be a rail line that will travel from West Oahu’s Kapolei community and finishing off somewhere in Honolulu near or at Ala Moana Shopping Center. The tax train to nowhere will become an even bigger headache in the years to come as more and more of our money are taken away to build a railroad that is supposed to alleviate traffic congestion but really won’t. The government knows that but they keep on moving with this choo-choo train fantasy.

Thanks Governor Linda Lingle for letting the tax increase bill get by without a veto in 2005. Thanks Mayor Mufi Hannemann, who has gone against his mantra of “do we need it” “can we afford it” and “can we maintain it”…. Our “mess-transit” nightmare will continue unless the Mayor and current council members up for reelection in 2008 are tossed out and replaced. It is my hope that groups such as Let Honolulu Vote and prevail in the ongoing issue of mass transit, the rail tax and the Mufi train to hell.

Other bad news for 2007:

Hawaii was still rattled by earthquakes long after the big one in 2006 shook us statewide on an early Sunday morning.

Big storms and heavy seas delayed the launch of the Hawaii Superferry. Humans bent on seeing the service not happen made worst storm waves by using the legal system to shut down operations in August before the legislature and governor intervened with a new law to exempt the service while a required Environmental Impact Study (EIS) is done.

Airline prices may climb in 2008 as Mesa Airlines lost its case against Hawaiian Airlines to the tune of $90 million in federal court. Should Mesa’s Go! leave the Hawaii market, island travelers and consumers will be whacked with severely increased costs to travel to another island.

Lastly property taxes continue to rise as we all get assessed for higher values as scores of developers and speculators push the cost of owning a home beyond what our dwellings are actually worth. Go figure.

Let’s hope that 2008 can be a better year where cost can be reigned in and more free market principles take root. Remember it’s an election year and it is another chance for the public to throw out the old cronies of the “tax and spend” generation.

Have a Happy New Year!

Comp USA Closing Soon

Comp USA Honolulu

The Comp USA chain of stores were sold off to Gordon Brothers Group LLC, a liquidator that specializes in business closures and sales. The entire chain will be closed with some of the stores sold off to other retailers. Speculation is that this Honolulu location will be one of the stores sold instead of totally shutting down.

Nevertheless, there will be “Going Out of Business” sales at all stores, though at my visit yesterday, prices were more or less the same as they always were. I expect deep discounts to start showing up as we get closer to the Christmas holiday and most definitely after that if the stores are still open. The consumer vultures have already started to circle the dying carcass of this once thriving retailer.

Will I miss Comp USA? Probably not. I prefer to go to BestBuy these days and being a Macintosh owner and user, I usually end up at the Apple Store or local retailer MacMouse Club which is located just up the street from Comp USA.

Photo: Comp USA Honolulu taken on Dec. 10, 2007. More photos at this link.

The Hawaii Superferry is Here

Hawaii Superferry

The Hawaii Superferry will be a classy new way to travel inter-island. Residents and business users will be able to travel to another island bringing their own vehicle with them. This new interisland travel option will allow passengers to bring their vehicles with them for a weekend getaway, a month or more of travel to another island. The big plus is that passengers will be able to load their vehicles up with all of their personal belongings or goods (in the case of businesses) and take them along for the trip.

Hawaii Superferry starts passenger service sometime after September 5. The vessel called The Alakai will undergo Coast Guard certification over the next few weeks. It is expected to get its okay soon after.

The Hawaii Superferry was built in Alabama and after initial testing, was sailed to the islands last month, passing through the Panama Canal during its 17-day voyage. This ship is the first of 2 that will be in service in Hawaii by 2009.

  • Hawaii Superferry Photos

    Top Photo: The main deck dining area of the Hawaii Superferry.

    Hawaii Superferry
    The forward section of the Alakai will offer panoramic views of the Hawaiian islands.

  • iPhone in Hawaii

    Hawaii will probably be one of the last places where people in the United States will be able to get the highly anticipated Apple iPhone. While I am a big Apple fan and user of Macs and iPods, an iPhone is not a device that I am getting anytime soon. Sure there is a coolness factor associated with it and I am sure it is laden with all kinds of features including video viewing, music playing, web surfing, text messaging and well… talking on the phone too.

    Frankly I don’t own a cell phone and may be one of the few people in the world that choose not to own one. The iPhone as cool as it may be, will not push me into the ranks of the millions of cell phone users.

    For those waiting in line… “good luck”. I hope you get one today. For those who will wait for later or wait forever, but who want to see what all the fuss is all about, check the following video feed from Hawaii:


    Ryan, a self professed geek and early adopter will hopefully be lucky enough to snag one of the coveted iPhones and share his experience with all those who have or want one. Enjoy!

    2007 First Hawaiian Auto Show

    2007 First Hawaiian Auto Show

    Everyone loves new cars. The sights, the smells, the power… the prices… well not everything. This weekend thousands of people flocked to the annual First Hawaiian Bank Auto Show held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. I attended the auto show and took a lot of photos, not to mention sat in a few of the display cars and checked out their features and prices. The annual display of motor vehicles presents the public with an opportunity to look, touch and sit in brand new cars without all of the hassle associated with going to a new car dealership.

    Photo: Chevrolet Corvette.

    More photos: Mel’s Auto Show Page | BuzzNet | Flickr

    ABC Store in Ala Moana Center

    They seem to be everywhere in Waikiki. And also in the Ala Moana Shopping Center. The ubiquitous ABC Stores, an operation that is aimed squarely at tourists and probably a very profitable business in the islands. Recently ABC Stores opened what I think is their largest store in Hawaii at the site of the former Honolulu Book Shop/Walden’s/Border’s Book Express location near Center Stage on the street level of Ala Moana Center.

    I just happened to be by, camera in hand when I snapped this quick shot of the place lit up for the evening. I never shop at ABC since most of the items are geared towards tourists – sundries, disposable cameras, little batteries, film, cheap t-shirts, some tacky Aloha wear, gifts, sunscreen, sarongs, beach towels and stuff. Prices are generally higher than say, Long’s Drug where similar items and more are also sold, but usually at a better price. The tacky design t-shirts at ABC are cheap, sometimes 2 or 3 for $20. Maybe more.

    Tourists like the stores because they are convenient and placed near or in the major resort hotels in Waikiki and elsewhere. There seems to be an ABC Store on every block of Waikiki. I think there is only one in Ala Moana Center and you’re looking at it (haven’t checked to see if the smaller location in the same center is still in operation)….

    Apple Store Opening at Kahala Mall

    Hawaii’s second Apple Store will be opening at Kahala Mall on Saturday February 10. The 5,000 sq. ft. store will be larger than the first Apple Store which opened in 2004 at Honolulu’s Ala Moana Shopping Center.

    As usual, Apple will be giving away free T-shirts to the first 1,000 people who visit the new store. There will definitely be a long line of people waiting to be “the first”. I won’t be one of them.

    I love Apple, have owned and still own several Macintoshes as well as iPods. Waiting in a long line to get a free t-shirt is not my idea of spending quality time on a busy (for me) weekend. Also since I live closer to the original store, there is no practical reason for me to shop at the Kahala Store which is several miles away from my location. I know what the products are and I can get em close by.

    Still, I wish all those who like to go to these kinds of opening day events the best of luck. Have fun, buy a Mac or an iPod. Aloha!


    This is the former Tower Records Store on the corner of Keeuamoku and Makaloa Streets in Honolulu Hawaii. I shot this picture on a recent walk one afternoon. The store closed more than a month ago. The building is slowly deteriorating as the grafitti artists have already struck, leaving their ugly marks on many of the structure’s exterior surfaces.

    The good news for this location is the fact that a Walgreens drug store is supposed to open here sometime this year. Walgreens will be a new entry into the Hawaii marketplace. They will be taking on the market leader Longs’ Drug, which has been established in Hawaii for more than 40 years.

    This location is near the shopping meccas of Ala Moana Center and the WalMart /Sam’s Club complex just across the street.

    The End For Tower Records

    It was Tower Records’ last hurrah in Honolulu. All CDs were advertised at 99¢ each but when customers got to the checkout line, they were 50¢ each. Very slim pickins, but at this price I bought 8 CDs to the tune of about $4.16. Not the huge blowout sale that I had expected 2 months ago when Tower announced their bankruptcy, but hey…. not a bad deal today for CDs that normally cost more than $16.99 each. It was a slow burn to oblivion for this once mighty chain store. Today all of Tower Records’ locations in Hawai — Honolulu Keeaumoku, Kahala Mall and Pearl Kai are closed for good, victim of changing times, big boxes and digital downloads. It was a good run and old timers will definitely miss it. Aloha.

    Click here for more photos.

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