Macy’s still ‘magic’ on Kauai

LIHUE — When it comes to Macy’s, Gailee Montgomery is a fan.

“It really is one of the only places there is to shop,” said Montgomery, a Kauai resident who was visiting the store on Wednesday. “The only other real option is to go to Honolulu.”

Likewise for Lani Cook, who was also visiting Macy’s on Wednesday. She, too, enjoys shopping at the retailer at the Kukui Grove Center. She said she can usually find good clothing for her child there.

“It’s really not that expensive for kids clothes,” Cook said. “I come in here once in a while. Today, I got two things for six bucks.”

While Macy’s on Kauai sees a steady stream of customers, “the magic of Macy’s” isn’t as strong elsewhere. The company announced Tuesday it plans to close between 35 and 40 stores beginning next year.

According to Jim Sluzewski, Macy’s spokesman, “the specific locations will be announced at a later date.” The stores that will be closed are expected to do so in early 2016.

Local officials say they’re not expecting the Kauai location to be in danger of closure.

“It’s highly unlikely that the store would close, they do very well,” said Wade Lord, general manager responsible for the Kukui Grove Center. “In fact, this store for many years was one of the top performing stores in the small format group, which has to do with square footage and demographics.”

The store employs over 100 people and is frequented by locals and visitors alike. It has been a constant in the Kauai retail world for years, popular for its designer clothes, the latest fashions and trendy accessories. It often features sales that offer anywhere from 15 to 50 percent off that attract budget-conscious consumers.

According to Lord, Macy’s has long been an anchor tenant at the shopping center. Anchor stores are what malls are built around, and Lord said when the Kukui Grove Shopping Center was created, other anchor stores included Sears, Woolworths and JC Penny’s.

Those other three are no longer at the center. Other larger tenants at the center today include Longs Drug, Ross Dress for Less, Sports Authority, Times Supermarket and Starbucks.

“The Macy’s was originally known as Liberty House, which is a store chain that started in the mid-1800s,” Lord said. “I don’t know exactly when, but they were purchased and rebranded as Macy’s at some point.”

Mark Perriello, president of the Kauai Chamber of Commerce, said Macy’s is an “important retail option for people on the island.” Perriello said while the chamber isn’t worried the store will be closed, it will keep an eye on the situation.

Macy’s said it wants to focus the closures on areas where the stores are redundant due to other stores in the same area, or the prevalence of online shopping.

“Physical stores remain absolutely vital to our omnichannel strategy, which provides local touch-points and tailored merchandise assortments for shoppers in nearly every major market,” said Terry J. Lundgren, Macy’s, Inc. chairman and chief executive officer in the release. “As new shopping centers are opened, however, many customers change their shopping habits and often the sales volume of a store gets divided among the new and nearby, existing centers. Each year, we prune some stores that are our weakest performers so that we can concentrate our resources on the best locations and maintain a strong physical presence.”

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