Businesses near rail line give customer discounts

A new program to help businesses along the rail line has been launched with the hopes of bringing customers back to the area.

KHON2 has been talking to businesses along the rail line who said that sales dwindled because of rail work. Companies such as Pro Am Golf Shop and Flamingo Restaurant closed this summer because of all the construction.

But here’s a deal: A small bowl of saimin for 95 cents. It’s what Shiro’s in Waimalu will be offering on certain days to customers who have a “Shop & Dine on the Line” card.

“It’s more involved,” said Linda Matsuo of Shiro’s.

That’s why Matsuo decided to be a part of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation’s new program. Customers can grab a discount card at participating businesses or online and receive special offers.

When KHON2 spoke with Matsuo last month, she said sales were down between $10,000-$20,000 a month.

Things are a little different now. “To be honest, I have to thank you,” Matsuo said, “because right after that interview, we were flooded with people coming in. … Another thing is that after that interview, HART paid attention.”

HART officials gathered Wednesday with some business owners in the area to publicly announce the partnership.”If you’ll take the extra effort to come down here and shop, they’re going to give you a little extra bonus for doing that,” said executive director Dan Grabauskas.

“For us, we wanted to work with HART and collaborate with them to think about more creative and unique ways, but to also stand side by side with our neighbors,” said Monica Toguchi of Highway Inn.

About 65 businesses between Waipahu and Aiea have joined the program.

But not everyone’s on board. Sales at Tanioka’s Seafoods & Catering in Waipahu have been affected by the rail construction, but they are not part of the promotional program.

“As a company, I just felt that it wasn’t for us,” said Justin Tanioka. “Giving away to bring customers is good, but we couldn’t really offer too much.”

Tanioka’s has been working with HART in other ways — for example, getting a left-turn lane into their business temporarily reopened.

For customers who don’t want to deal with the traffic or construction, HART is still working on its trolley program, which they hope to begin in the fall. It will give shoppers a ride to businesses along the rail line at least once a month.

To learn more about “Shop & Dine on the Line,” click here.

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