Oahu’s major shopping malls welcomed shoppers Friday following an approximately two-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. David Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell gave malls and “nonessential” retailers the green light to resume business starting Friday as part of the first phase of reopening the economy. Shoppers returned, in varying degrees, to the malls, where social- distancing measures, customer limits and face mask requirements were in place.
“I was so excited to go shopping,” said Honolulu resident Mo Petersen. “I wish they would open more stores. I think we should all help the economy. People need jobs, and they need to open up. I just wanted to go and support them.”
Petersen, a retiree, was disappointed to find major department stores, including Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom, still closed at Ala Moana Center. But she was excited to shop at the Japanese clothing chain Uniqlo for the first time and bought several items there.
While not an avid shopper before the pandemic, Petersen welcomed the opportunity to get out, walk around and see other people, even from a distance. She was so excited she went shopping at Kahala Mall the same day.
Ala Moana Center, Pearlridge Center, Kahala Mall, Windward Mall, Ka Makana Ali‘i in Kapolei and Waikele Premium Outlets reopened Friday with new protocols in place. At Ala Moana, an additional 60 eateries and shops reopened, joining about 40 others that had been allowed to continue operating as essential or takeout businesses.
Emman Calaycay of Honolulu and his sister and cousin were lined up outside Louis Vuitton at Ala Moana on Friday to purchase a birthday gift. “It’s a totally different experience,” he said.
Only one customer was allowed into the boutique at a time, and each could be accompanied only by one other family member. Prior to entering the store, every customer had to sanitize their hands. Still, Calaycay said he felt safe while shopping.
“Everyone was calm and everyone was observing the safety measures, giving distance to other people,” he said.
At Pearlridge Center in Aiea, shoppers were lined up outside starting at 9:30 a.m., an hour and a half before opening time, according to spokeswoman Diana Su.
Stores that reopened Friday at Pearlridge included Anthem, The Blessed Life, Crazy Shirts, Hawaiian Island Creations, Homegrown, Cookies Clothing Co. and Shoe Palace. Cinnabon was also a big hit.
At Windward Mall, a no-touch hand sanitizer dispenser was available just past the entrance doors.
Although many national retailers such as Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works and Ross Dress for Less remained closed, local ones including Happy Wahine, In My Closet, Local Motion and T&C Surf Designs were open for business.
At T&C Surf, an employee stood outside, offering hand sanitizer to all entering customers.
Rhonda Sato of Kaneohe was at Windward Mall for the first time since stay-at-home orders went into effect. She said she was curious to see what was open and was happy to discover her favorite popcorn kiosk, L1 Iniki Popcorn, was offering its mix of popcorn with toppings including kaki mochi.
Sato said she and her husband had for years walked at the mall for exercise, so she knows it well. She said she was looking forward to going to a hair salon again.
Windward Mall’s food court seating area and the play center remained closed, and the Cubby Caboose Mini Express train is on hiatus.
At Ala Moana Center, stores now open include Allison Izu, Anthropologie, The Face Shop, Forever 21, Hilo Hattie, Island Sole, Jeans Wearhouse, Malie, Martin & MacArthur, Maui Divers Jewelry and Tiffany & Co.
An updated list can be found at alamoanacenter.com.
“We appreciate the continued support from the community and are eager to once again serve as a place where people can shop, dine, work and spend time together in a safe and controlled way,” said Ala Moana’s senior marketing manager Scott Creel in a statement.