Hunkered down in Hanalei

HANALEI — Residents hunkered down on north side of the Hanalei River on Monday, as heavy rains closed down Kuhio Highway for most of the day, and though that triggered a slower sales day for many, business owners say they’re starting to see impacts from COVID-19.

The coronavirus outbreak seems to hang over the island like a specter, an enemy that cannot be seen but leaves evidence of its effects on the community in its path, many store owners are already noticing the impacts of the virus.

Mike Ching, manager of Ching Young Shopping Center in Hanalei points out, “I’ve noticed that the parking lots have been more empty.”

In Hanalei it’s clear that there are simply less people out and about, likely in an attempt to stay healthy, as there are both less cars and people on the streets in general compared to just a couple of weeks ago.

“Business in stores at the counter have slowed down a little, but I don’t think we’re really going to see major changes until two weeks from now. At the moment my understanding is that people have been really hoarding stuff,” Ching said, pointing out a temporary uptick in sales on Friday and Saturday as people were stockpiling food, cleaning products, and other basic essentials in preparation for waiting out the coronavirus scare on island. Visitors were alarmed at the short supply of goods in stores, too, and some visitors from California asked Ching if there is a shortage on island.

“I feel like at this point there’s more questions than answers,” Ching said.

Janice Pendleton, owner of Seahorse Boutique in Hanalei says she’s seen sales drop as well.

“It’s been a lot slower, our hours have stayed the same but I noticed some of the other stores have reduced hours,” Pendleton said.

She says that so far business is okay though, but she anticipates it will get worse.

“I think we haven’t seen the full effects yet,” she said, explaining how she’s cutting back on what she plans to put on shelves. “I’ve been canceling orders of products that I’ve had coming in, but when I tell the vendors over the phone they understand and even expected me to cancel the orders.”

Pendleton’s husband is a property manager and she says he’s had 41 cancellations in the past few days.

“Cancellations like that affect business for everybody,” she said.

Pendleton says that everyone is making their concerns known, “I talked to one lady from New York who asked me, ‘Have you been using hand sanitizer?’ ” She assured her that yes she does, is taking all the necessary health precautions.

Holding a container of cleaning product spray in front of her, Pendleton said :“We’re prepared.”

Jordan Fleming is a cashier at Hanalei Strings music store in Hanalei and she says there have been less people coming into the store in general, which she agreed probably has to do with the coronavirus scare. She points out that there hasn’t been any dramatic changes in store yet, though.

“Seems like it’s been slow, and that we’re in a slow season too. Sometimes we’ll close early but we’ve been mostly keep the same hours,” Fleming said.

Some people though, despite the virus, are looking up.

In Kapaa, Bhavana Chawla, owner of her own holistic healing business says work is going well for her, “I have clients that I work with over the phone and the internet, I am not really impacted with that part of my business, and I have not seen a loss of income.”

Chawla said she has friends that have been struggling. One friend had three jobs, but has since lost all her income, because she was unable to continue working.

“This is a time to get creative,” Chawla says, “This is a time where we need to look at how we make money, how we spend money, how that looks to us, and look at the system we are dependent on. We need to ask ourselves, ‘if this system collapses, will we collapse?’”

She thinks it’s a good idea for people to think of ways to make money remotely, as that could be a good alternative for those who have lost their other means of income, such as through traditional means such as by working in a place of business with coworkers.

UPS store manager in Kapaa, Josh Goldman does not feel discouraged by the coronavirus outbreak, and has only seen a slight decrease in business.

“It’s been slowing down a little, but we still have customers coming in, tourists still coming. I don’t think it will be as bad as people think.” Goldman adds, “Just trying to stay positive, I’m not worried about it, we’re in the middle of the ocean.”

5 Comments
  1. sillyputty March 17, 2020 9:48 am Reply

    This is sad to read. I am a north shore person, but live in town now. Some of the comments in this article are completely irresponsible and counterproductive not only to flattening the curve but common sense. It is sad to read things from people I may know being so incredibly blase about what is going on.

    Part of the reason why tourists that are intelligent and taking the deadly, yes I said DEADLY covid-19 seriously wont come, is because they are using common sense and not in denial and don’t want to infect us. Another reason may be because they feel that Kauai people are not taking it seriously and therefore not doing the right things to prevent the spread.

    People also make selfish comments in this report, as well. It could have been far more balanced. Why not interview some actual Kupuna or compromised people whose lives are in danger, while that one person says “it wont come here, we are in the middle of the ocean”. That person gets the idiot of the year award. Why even print such drivel at this time? I guess it will highlight how brain-dead and ignorant our people are. Which makes me even more sad, disgusted and disappointed.

    And for that dum dums information, hey babuze, read this. There are over 10 people here with it, and we now have community spread. The virus came here via those tourists you are slobbering all over. this is a pandemic. The virus doesn’t care about oceans. Seriously. You need to talk better than a kindergartner. you sound childish and ridiculous and you bring shame on all of us.

    As I said, tourists wont come if they think Kauai people are like that guy that said, “It wont be bad we are in the ocean it wont come here..

    My big question is:

    Did the reporter correct this person, or just not the head in agreement? Or say, oh, ok. That’s what I want to know. You may need to get better writers. Actual journalists would be nice.

    In my opinion this is highly irresponsible journalism. They are happy the tourists are here, breathing on them after being on ships and planes, when the mandate has been clearly “DO not travel unnecessarily.”. A vacay is not necessary.

    It is very sad to see the attitude coming out of a place that I love so much. Sad. Get a grip down there, ohana and take it seriously. Social distance, and stay home if you are Kupuna.
    Hand sanitizer is not as good as social distancing and staying home.

    I am sorry but this really makes smoke come out of my ears.


  2. curious dog March 17, 2020 10:58 am Reply

    Anyone knows how much tourists use UPS to mail packages home so they don’t have to pay exhorbitant airline fees. You, Mr. Goldman, are in the eye of the storm…even if it’s just on a little island in the middle of the ocean. Hope you’re taking all the right precautions b/c UPS employees & customers are open to this bug each & every day they show up at a UPS store.


  3. Uncleaina March 17, 2020 2:36 pm Reply

    The CDC guidelines call for no more than 10 people in a place. Our mayor has the authority to close restaurants and bars-he needs to act now. The main way the virus has and will enter our community is by tourists. How long before you have to do this anyway? Hard facts.


  4. Kauaidoug March 17, 2020 8:10 pm Reply

    “we’re in the middle of the ocean.” Incredible, you have the world coming through your door. We are only behind the curve so as soon as we crack down here the flatter our curve. I wonder how many respirators are on this island? We need to plan 10 days ahead and do it now. As we protect ourselves we protect each other.


  5. Nancy March 18, 2020 4:00 pm Reply

    I read the garden island today, to check on all of you. I am writing to you from shelter in place in Palm Springs, CA. We have more deaths in this tiny valley (3) than all of Los Angeles County (1). This tiny community decided to shelter in place for that reason. No leaving our homes except for the market, pharmacy and doctor’s office for three weeks. Exercising with your household, 6 feet away from others is allowed, but they would prefer every person to stay in their own yards. The authorities are fairly certain that the disease moved here directly from WA state as a result of the tourist/snowbird season. Many people were carriers. They had no symptoms and then socialized with others..at bars, stores, pools, restaurants, everywhere. Every person that died was a local, not a visitor. This disease spread from one person to one person, meaning a group of ten means one person to ten people. Not all sick, just carriers, as is evident in Europe.

    In Italy, once the virus arrived, they allowed small group socializing with social distancing for too long. After going to parties, bars, and restaurants, family members unknowingly carried the virus into their homes under quarantine and infected all ages, killing the most vulnerable. They are now trapped in their homes with the virus and it is killing them by the hundreds.

    If they had immediately sheltered in place with 10 cases, there is a very good chance that there would not be an enormous death toll.

    The area around Palm Springs has 15 positive cases, so the city SHUT DOWN. It is terrible to watch stores and restaurants close, people’s financial lives be destroyed. Mine included. TERRIBLE. But it is absolutely unavoidable. We have to LIVE. We want to keep our elderly family members, sick kids and unhealthy adults alive…We have no choice. The virus is going after every age group, underlying issues known and not known or just age. One family member interacts with ONE member of ONE other family and both households will most likely be totally infected, killing some.

    As an island you are so lucky on the health side, yet so unlucky on the financial side with no tourism, I totally get it. We are unlucky all of the way around, You actually have the chance to keep people off of your island for months, treat the people that are ill and truly get and stay healthy. We have thousands and thousands of people driving through, cities around us not sheltering in place, infected people everywhere. We are looking at a 16 week minimum, if ever this year, that we will be virus free. If you practice shelter in place now, you will have cleaner waters, beaches to yourselves, the chance to live Kaua’i. Please see that as a silver lining. You are such lovely people..and you live in the most magical place in the world… enjoy it, take care of each other and be kind to each other. I wish I was there,


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