LIHU‘E — Another large chain retailer on Kaua‘i — the fifth this year — comes to an end. After 20 years on the island, Del’s Feed and Farm Supply in Lihu‘e sold off its inventory and closed its doors last month.
“It’s a financial decision made by (Del’s parent company) Tractor Supply,” store manager Jennifer Estrada said Thursday. “But essentially, it was because of the lease.”
Other chain retailers that have closed on Kaua‘i this year include Coldstone Creamery in Kapa‘a and Lihu‘e, Borders bookstore in Lihu‘e, Blockbuster video store in Kapa‘a and Big Save supermarket in Lihu‘e.
Del’s closure displaces eight employees and could potentially mean higher prices for feed, should remaining local suppliers decide take advantage of the sudden void in competition.
“One of our customers told me that when we ran out of chicken scratch, prices (at other feed stores) went up $5,” said Estrada, adding that Del’s was often able to set local prices for products because of its enormous buying power as a vast national chain and distribution network.
Tractor Supply Company owns and operates Del’s 27 locations throughout Washington, Oregon, Hawai‘i and Idaho. Headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn., Tractor Supply is the largest retail farm and ranch supplier in the U.S. with more 900 retail stores in 40 states and 14,000 employees nationwide, according to Del’s website.
Del’s has two other Hawai‘i locations that will remain open: Hilo and Kahului, Maui. The Kaua‘i store’s assistant manager will be relocating to the Maui store, Estrada said.
An employee at the Maui location last week said competition from other Kaua‘i stores such as Aloha Feed, plus Kaua‘i’s limited market size were additional reasons for the closure.
When Tractor Supply transferred Estrada to Del’s on Kaua‘i more than two years ago, she said she and her husband, Fernando, were elated and planned to live on the island forever. Now, as the couple reluctantly prepares to leave the Garden Isle for the Mainland, she said she hopes to return here someday to retire.
“Most of all,” Estrada said with tears welling in her eyes, “we want customers to know we appreciated their business.”
She declined to comment further about issues related to the lease. Attempts to reach the commercial building’s owners, Darren and Dawn Murata, on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
The average asking price for retail rents on Kaua‘i ranges between $2.95 and $4.91 per square foot, according to a CBRE first quarter Hawai‘i commercial real estate report.
Other Kaua‘i feed stores include: M Kawamura Farm Enterprises in Lihu‘e, Harvey and Sons Feed Store in Kalaheo, and Aloha Feed and Supply in Lihu‘e.