People find holiday spirit despite pandemic

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Derek and Cynthia Sone work up customer’s lunches, Friday at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Sara Miura of Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i wipes down the sanitizer between shoppers, Friday at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Guest artist Emilia Knudsen shows off a honu Christmas ornament that was sold, Friday during Knudsen’s special appearance at the small work Big Show exhibition at the KSA Gallery at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Lilliana Burley and her nana Dorothy Nakazawa have their Holiday clothes on as they look for more bargains, Friday after shopping the Black Friday specials at the Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i and Macy’s.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Keiki engage in hands-on activity outside the Premier Martial Arts center, Friday at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Shoppers observe the face mask and social distancing guidelines, Friday when they shop for Black Friday bargains at the Kukui Grove Center.

LIHU‘E — Post-Thanksgiving shopping was not stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic — it just got off to a late start and adjusted to be in compliance with the pandemic’s health and safety guidelines.

“We didn’t get here until after 9 a.m.,” said Dorothy Nakazawa who, along with her granddaughter Lilliana Burley, were dressed in holiday attire while seeking out more stops with Black Friday deals. “We didn’t have to get up super early and fight the crowds. At least, we have our holiday clothes on, and we’re ready.”

Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, the specialty leasing manager at Kukui Grove, said this Black Friday weekend is an important time of the year for retailers.

“This is pretty much the final chance to make up for lost revenues in the year,” McFerrin-Warrack said. “But people are finding the holiday spirit in spite of the pandemic, and I’m amazed at the resilience of our small businesses. I appreciate how the retailers are spreading their specials throughout the month instead of having everything on Black Friday. In the end, it all goes to support Kaua‘i.”

The traditional pop-up tents fronting the Deja Vu Surf Hawai‘i store were absent, leaving more room for lunch-goers waiting outside Genki Sushi.

“We want everyone to be safe,” said Sara Miura of Deja Vu. Miura manned a wipe to clean the sanitizer dispenser following a steady stream of customers entering the store.

David Sosner, the Kukui Grove general manager, was also impressed with the shoppers’ adjustment to the new way of shopping.

“The shoppers have been real good about not moving the furniture around,” Sosner said. “We have more furniture arriving, but need to study the guidelines before we lay it out. Under the COVID-19 guidelines, we’re not supposed to gather in big groups, simply get what’s needed and keep moving.”

Those guidelines and pending decisions affected the traditional welcome of Santa Claus, the holiday parade that has been canceled, and the start of the electric light show.

But the shopping continues with Small Business Saturday taking place at the mall on Saturday.

“Do you realize that Kukui Grove Center has more than 20 small businesses?” McFerrin-Warrack said. “A lot of them will be doing special events like Sone’s who will have free hot dogs for keiki. Some of our long-time vendors like Prestige Jewelers — they’ve been here for 30 years! — are offering nice discounts of up to 60 percent.”

Shoppers have an opportunity to Shop and Dine whereby collecting at least $100 in receipts from any of the small businesses, they can earn a $20 gift card when they redeem the receipts starting Monday at the Kukui Grove management office.

“This is also the last weekend to sign up for Make It Merry, a social media campaign, where someone has the opportunity to earn $500 in gift cards,” McFerrin-Warrack said.

Additionally, there were appearances by special guests, including Laurie Ho, president of the Kaua‘i County Farm Bureau, and representing the Pau Hana Market that opened to the public last Monday.

The Zonta Club of Kaua‘i with partners the YWCA of Kaua‘i, Catholic Charities, the Girl Scouts of Hawai‘i, and the Friends of the Children’s Justice Center will be available to provide resource tables to support the “Zonta Says No to Violence Against Women” campaign.

Special guest artist Emilia Knudsen — she’s just 11 years old — will be at the Kaua‘i Society of Artists gallery, where sales from her ‘From Trash to Treasure’ will benefit presents for keiki at the Keiki Christmas planned for Dec. 21 at the Kapa‘a Community Food Pantry.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or


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