LIHUE — The open-air shopping center at Kukui Grove lost another one of its tenants this month.
Zales Jewelers chose to leave the retail space after its lease expired at the end of June, according to Kukui Grove Center General Manager Wade Lord.
The chain retailer offered a variety of diamonds and jewelry in classic and designer styles at the location for 14 years. Zales has occupied the store behind Longs Drugs and next to Famous Footwear since July 2003, said Lord.
Nearly 15 rental spaces are now unoccupied at the mall, and some residents wonder why so many spaces are vacant.
“It’s expensive here,” said Hanamaulu resident Aiden McDonald as he pushed a shopping cart. “Rent is high, so a lot of people aren’t seeing a lot of return in their investment. It’s sad to see it getting this way, especially within the last few years.”
Although the end anchor space most recently occupied by Sports Authority remains vacant at this time, Kauai’s largest shopping center continues to offer more than 55 shops and restaurants, including anchor stores Macy’s, Ross, Kmart, Times Supermarkets and Pier 1 Imports.
And some smaller tenants remain optimistic about the future of Kauai’s economy.
“We’re a local family business, and we’ve been known on this island for a long time because of our reputation,” said Jocelyn Slade, supervisor at Deja Vu Surf Hawaii. “People have been coming here for years.”
Many residents and visitors recognize the importance of buying from local businesses to support members of the community and the local economy.
“We see the fluctuation between shop owners, and it’s a lot of ‘big box’ businesses that come in and out,” said Slade. “We stay more busy with all the vacancies, and we benefit from less competition.”
In February 2014, Signet Jewelers bought and merged with Zales Corporation as the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry. Zales’ sister store, Kay Jewelers, which is adjacent to the now-vacant space, continues with regular business hours. Also operated under Signet, Kay accounts for 40 percent of the jewelry giant’s sales.
Kukui Grove also features locally owned shop jewelry stores Prestige Jewelers and Speedy Jewelry Repair, which specializes in jewelry repair, ring re-sizing and watch battery replacement. Speedy Jewelry Repair also offers fine jewelry and unique jewelry accessories.