Kinipopo Shopping Village turns 20

Phil Harrison wore a sea turtle pendant on a thick chain around his neck on Friday as he marked the 20th anniversary of Kinipopo Shopping Village.

The pendant’s designer, Mark Meador, co-owns Goldsmiths Kauai, a custom jewelry shop that has been the only constant in a changing landscape of stores and restaurants at the Wailua shopping center.

Meador worked at the jewelry bench in his shop as Harrison led a tour of Kinipopo: a bookstore specializing in rare books and memorabilia; a Mexican restaurant piping Tex-Mex into the courtyard; a new shop featuring stationery and oversized, patterned sheets of paper.

“I don’t want people to come here and see tourist junk that’s sold in other places,” Harrison said. “I wanted this to be more of a boutique center.”

The mix has taken some cultivation.

Harrison bought the land in 1967. The area that now serves as a courtyard used to be a miniature golf course, he said, and the Korean barbecue sits where a barber once cut hair.

The shopping center followed a post-and-beam structure that took two years to create and that held its shape when Hurricane Iniki devastated the island in 1992, Harrison said.

After the hurricane, federal relief and construction workers took up residence at nearby hotels and business boomed, he said: “We had all these people living on either side of us, and we were the only people open. We were able to stay in business when everyone else closed.”

Kinipopo shifted its focus to carpeting, windows, roofing and insurance in the wake of Iniki, he said, but those stores have disappeared today.

So have the tattoo parlors and second-hand shops that followed.

“I decided I wanted to change the character of the village,” Harrison said.

Recent additions to the roster include a real-estate office, a women’s clothing store and a photography studio that has not yet opened, he said. Businesses change every four or five years on average, he said.

He enjoys working with the faces — new and old, he said.

“I have a personal relationship with all of these folks, and that makes it enjoyable for me,” he said.

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