‘We never closed’

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    ‘There’s a new island, in there,’ said the Charlie Cabangbang family, Thursday while peering through the doors of Kaua‘i Ocean Discovery at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Mindy Hibbitt is mindful of the required face mask while stocking empty spots at Cell Everything, Thursday at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i associates Riz Ogata and Akime Dizol greet guests, Thursday when the Kukui Grove store opened with special considerations for health and social distancing guidelines.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Annalynn Dribo and Maelynn Antibas get a break from their face masks while they enjoy Partea treats, Thursday while waiting to do business with Sprint at the Kukui Grove Center.

LIHU‘E — You can’t enjoy a Partea treat if you have a mask on, said Annalynn Dribo, Thursday at the Kukui Grove Center.

“We have to take care of telephone business at Sprint,” Dribo said. “But they were busy so we had a treat while waiting. I was surprised that Partea was open, too.”

Sprint was one of six tenants in the Kukui Grove Center that opened its doors to business during the modified schedule of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the shopping center. Other businesses joining Sprint included The Flip Flop Shop, Speedy Jewelry, Jane, Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i, and Pyramid Insurance on the first day the shopping center got the green light to open under the governor’s emergency rules.

“They didn’t have to close because they’re essential as telecommunications,” said Mindy Hibbett, owner of Cell Everything, a kiosk that re-opened Monday. “We didn’t have to close either, but my kids were going crazy so I shut down from March 23 until Monday. Cricket is the only one who stayed open the entire time.”

Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, the specialty leasing manager, said with at least a dozen tenants providing essential services, the shopping center never really shut down.

“We continued to serve the community through the COVID-19 crisis,” MeFerrin-Warrack said. “Today, after getting the green light to open, we’re happy to see more tenants open, and excited to see others preparing their stores to open under the new social distancing guidelines.”

To assist shoppers, McFerrin-Warrack said the Kukui Grove Center website (www.kukuigrovecenter.com) has been modified during the COVID-19 crisis period to include a “Shop &Support” tab that gives viewers a quick listing of who’s open and who’s not. Additionally, a “Grab &Go” tab provides the menu of the day and telephone numbers for restaurants participating in the pick up and go meals (the dine-in food court is still not allowed). Finally, a “Health &Safety” tab outlines the safety and health guidelines to keep both shoppers and workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bubbah’s Toy Box and Serendipity are scheduled to open their doors, Friday. Others such as Macy’s and Ross Dress for Less are still awaiting word from their respective corporate offices on when they will open their doors.

“This is not as simple as throwing a switch,” McFerrin-Warrack said. “There are cleaning and disinfecting protocols that need to be followed, retail crews need to be updated on the new expectations and operating procedures, and other protocols that need to be addressed before anyone can re-open.”

Hibbett said she was operating the kiosk by herself.

“We finally got some information from the Small Business Association on the Payroll Protection loan,” Hibbett said. “We need a few more things to finish that paperwork, and hopefully, once we secure the loan, we can bring back the staff.”

Hibbett and Partea were two tenants that opened starting Monday.

“We’re going to be open on modified hours for six days a week,” Hibbett said. “People have been very respectful when it comes to social distancing. I see you have the same problem with glasses getting fogged when you have a face mask on…I have to take mine off when doing certain tasks on people’s cell phones, and when they see that, they politely take a step back. We’re fortunate we have so much space around the kiosk.”

Cleaning, disinfecting, and social distance briefings and signage kept Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i from opening later than the 11 a.m. shopping center opening.

“We had to make sure our associates knew what to do in terms of the new guidelines,” said Sara Miura of Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i. “Right now, we’re focusing on cleaning and disinfecting all our stores and making sure we follow all the new guidelines. But we really missed our guests, and are so happy to see them, again.”

That effort results in a new shopping experience for Deja Vu guests, Miura said. The new experience involves payment for goods using debit or credit cards to minimize contact between guests and staff.

Denise Zumwalt of The Flip Flop Shop was also on a mask break, taking advantage of a break between shoppers to enjoy her lunch.

“My daughters and I were here, yesterday,” Denise said. “We measured everything out, and after calculating everything, we can have six customers in here to be in line with the social distancing measures. But people have been waiting for us to open — nearly every one who came in today needed to get new slippers.”

Denise said the OOFOS for Police campaign ended Wednesday with some $1,380 raised toward helping ensure that 144 Kaua‘i Police Department officers get to enjoy the OOFOS technology.

“I just placed the order, today,” Denise said. “The total fell a little short of what we needed, but we are committed to make sure all the police officers get OOFOS so we’re just going ahead and doing it.”

Hibbett said coming back to reopening is huge.

“I love the community, and all the support we’ve gotten from everyone — family, friends, and customers,” she said. “Coming back is huge!”

  1. Mustache king May 8, 2020 10:33 am Reply


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