Pearl Kai golf shop closes, blames rail for slow business

Pro Am Golf Shop

Another business along the Honolulu rail route is shutting its doors and blaming the project.

Pro Am Golf Shop in Pearl Kai Shopping Center will close Saturday.

Earlier this year, KHON2 talked to Pearl Kai merchants who were concerned about more construction headed their way.

At Pro Am Golf Shop Friday afternoon, there was only one customer in the store.

A manager said that’s how it’s been since rail work began on Kamehameha Highway. Sales dropped about 40 percent.

The store will open for the last time Saturday and a small sign at the cash register tells customers why.

Other merchants nearby fear they could be next. “I try to hang in here. I don’t know how long I can hang in,” said Thomas So, who owns Pearl Kai Tennis.

So has been in the same location for more than a decade. He said sales have dropped nearly 35 percent.

“Why has your business been suffering?” KHON2 asked.

“Because of the rail. Because of traffic, you see Kamehameha Highway traffic,” he said.

At Tadashi, tables are open, even during the lunch hour. Sales at the restaurant have plummeted 60 percent.

“People are calling in, make a reservation and they call back and they cancel because they cannot get around because of the construction all over the place,” said owner Curtis Chanthabandith.

Business owners KHON2 talked to at Pearl Kai Shopping Center say the only way they’re remaining afloat is by relying on their regular customers.

In a statement, HART deputy executive director Brennon Morioka said, “We understand that construction work is affecting businesses along the alignment and we continue to work with them to keep them informed, and to offer workshops and programs to help them attract customers.”

“I don’t think that works for us,” So said. “It’s just about the traffic. They know we are here.”

There will be more construction and changes later. HART plans to temporarily close the ewabound left-turn lane from Kamehameha Highway into the shopping center, but will create another temporary left turn access.

“If business drop more than it already is, I might have to consider relocating,” Chanthabandith said.

“I think it’s only going to get worse. I just hope they can finish fast enough for me to survive,” So said.

The city is taking steps to try to help businesses affected by rail and so are local banks.

The Hawaii Bankers Association said all the banks are offering relief to merchants, such as lower interest rates on loans, but we’re told so far, no one has accepted the help being offered.

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