‘Like Black Friday in the pandemic’

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    A shopper at Ross Dress for Less at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e, left, reacts after getting the green light to enter Sunday from Sheila Balisacan, store manager, right.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Christie and Kevin Hendricks return to their car Sunday after getting their shopping done at the Ross Dress for Less store that reopened Sunday at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Mel Dias and Renee To’to wait at the end of the line to enter the Ross Dress for Less store Sunday at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Sheila Balisacan, the Ross Dress for Less manager at Kukui Grove Center, center, monitors the line of shoppers waiting to enter the store that reopened Sunday to a maximum capacity of 35 individuals based on COVID-19 health and safety regulations.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    The line of shoppers wraps around the Ross Dress for Less store at Kukui Grove Center in Lihu‘e Sunday during the store’s reopening following being shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

LIHU‘E — Mel Dias was sleeping in the Kukui Grove Center parking lot fronting the Ross Dress for Less store Saturday night in anticipation of the store’s reopening Sunday morning.

“I have her picture,” a shopper waiting in the line entering the store said Sunday morning, drawing up the social media proof. “This is crazy. That’s her. It’s like Black Friday in the pandemic.”

Dias was making her way to the end of the line of Ross shoppers that snaked around the building past the closed-off dine-in area of the food court and then rounding the corner to the store’s closed mall entrance.

“I overslept,” Dias said. “I wanted to be first, but I left around midnight because I thought the security would give me a hard time about spending the night in the parking lot.”

Sheila Balisacan, manager of the Kukui Grove Center store, said the line was so long, they opened the doors at 8 a.m., two hours earlier than the scheduled opening for the store that limits the number of people inside based on social-distancing guidelines. And, of course, face masks must be worn.

Balisacan also confirmed the opening of the Waipouli store that had similar congestion in the parking lot fronting its store.

“We were here since 6:30 this morning,” said Christie and Kevin Hendricks, who had the distinction of being the second shoppers inside the store that was shuttered because of the COVID-19 rules and mandates.

The reopening of the Ross Dress for Less highlighted the Memorial Day weekend at KGC, where other retailers like Macy’s opened up Friday morning, and ProfessioNail enjoyed a full day of appointments after being shut down by the pandemic rules. A new tenant, DoU with Melisa Garcia, enjoyed providing shoppers with a sneak preview of her shop offering exercise classes and affiliated wear designed for the strengthening of mind, body and soul.

“Slow and easy,” said Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, the shopping center’s manager of specialty leasing and marketing. “We don’t want the massive crowds because of the social-distancing concerns.”

That did not happen Sunday, as security personnel worked to remind waiting shoppers of the social-distancing guidelines while planning for an extension of the overflow line of waiting shoppers.

“The shopping center security said the line started at 6:30 this morning,” McFerrin-Warrack said. “They have been checking the area to help make sure people are social distancing. I am really impressed with how everyone is wearing their masks and social distancing. It’s really nice to see people happy to shop again.”

The KGC website, kukuigrovecenter.com, offers a full set of new health and safety guidelines based on COVID-19 concerns.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

  1. Proud Mama May 25, 2020 2:21 pm Reply

    Meanwhile, on the mainland, where all those visitors everyone wants to come back so badly are from have been partying it up without masks or social distancing, and even hanging signs in their store windows forbidding masks. Don’t believe me on that one? Google it. It made national news.

    So, while we here are doing whatever we can to keep each other safe. the wolves salivating to get in here because we are so “pristine” can’t wait to muddy us all up and cause some real issues here. Like death. Let’s look at some reality here, people. We have 22 ventilators. If any of those ventilators are taken up by those tourists who decided to have a great time without wearing masks or social distancing and were slobbering all over each other I can guarantee you you will see aloha go to minus a million in mach one nanosecond.

    No sympathy or empathy for those who do not wear a mask or social distance. Also, i do not go into stores where it is crowded, or there is no breath partitions. I hope this will stay like this for at least a month to give us all a breather, and stock up before the deadly tourist virus shows up. that is what I call this now.

    Touristvirus2020, instead of covid19.

    1. CommonSenseish May 26, 2020 12:28 pm Reply

      Did you know or do you care, most of the infected, are from RESIDENTS who traveled and brought it back. I really hope the tourists see the hate being spewed and decide to spend their vacation money elsewhere because the local people are so full of themselves. We shall see who talks big when plenty of you can’t go back to work because you don’t have work to go back to. Hotels, Rental Cars, Tourist Attractions… you think Locals drive those? Nope, it’s the people you have all come to hate so much.

  2. Brother Kai May 26, 2020 5:01 am Reply

    I’m so happy about the virus because it’s finally let us be honest about what we think about tourists and mainlanders. Who uses “aloha” for real? It’s is become a word to pimp out our beauty and get the visitors to give us their money. We can finally go back to enjoying our island in peace. My dogs don’t have to told to be quiet at 2am when they like to bark. And I’m so sick of self-righteous tourists telling me how I’m breaking the rules and damaging da nature when driving my truck on the beach. It hasn’t leaked in years. And now I can hunt every day if I want without scaring those stupid hikers in their matching baseball caps. I hope we never see another outsider again. I got my family and I don’t need nothing else.


  3. Everythingisawesome May 26, 2020 7:48 am Reply

    Mama Mia,
    “Let’s look at some reality here, people.”

    21 cases on the island. Only one case could not be linked to travel. Every other case was brought here from somewhere else and it spread to…wait for it…nobody. Nobody on this island can say they got Covid-19 from a tourist. Nobody. Not even the ‘1’. Unless there are some ‘victims’ of the Touristvirus2020 out there who are afraid to come forward.

    “I can guarantee you you will see aloha go to minus a million in mach one nanosecond.” You’re already there, Mama.

  4. Kauaidoug May 26, 2020 8:51 am Reply

    We have to open up but we have to have a way to be reasonably sure that your guest, zipliner, kayaker, customer, diner are not asymptomatic carriers. How can we do that?

    1. Everythingisawesome May 26, 2020 4:37 pm Reply

      “to be reasonably sure that your guest, zipliner, kayaker, customer, diner are not asymptomatic carriers”

      Why? To keep people from catching the COVID? Someone said that’s what the muzzles and so-so distancing is for. Is that not what those are for? If not, then why are we doing them?

      We will never be sure that someone isn’t carrying a communicable disease. Never have been. Probably never will be.

  5. Kenneth A Riddick May 26, 2020 11:31 am Reply

    I think it’s pretty narrow minded to judge all people from the mainland based on the actions of a few misguided young people.

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