Shoppers say goodbye as retailers spend last days at Ward Warehouse

What was supposed to last 15 years ended up serving the community for more than 40.

Monday was the last day of business for dozens of shops and restaurants at Ward Warehouse.

The complex will be torn down to add more retail space and a high-rise condo building.

Some of the businesses are relocating while others decided to close up shop for good.

Then there are business owners who do what they know best, and that’s changing with the times.

“It’s like watching part of your childhood disappear, but you also know you have to be adaptive, and when you move over to the new place, it’s all good,” said Augusto Tulba, a stylist at Salon Bobbi and Guy.

The clearance signs attracted shoppers, but throughout the weekend and on Monday, many of them came to say their last goodbyes to their favorite stores.

Ward Warehouse has changed over the years but many people have made lasting memories.

“I miss Native Books and Things. I used to always go there and spend a lot of time in there,” said Makakilo resident Susan Jay.

“My church used to come here for mochi pounding for the community and that was a lot of fun for me,” Lucas Nakao said. “We used to do that every year, so it’s kind of sad that we have to stop.”

“I just miss the whole feel. Everything. The atmosphere and the music down at the amphitheater, everything,” said Larry Jones, a visitor from Missouri.

Many told KHON2 Ward Warehouse was a place where they grew up and eventually brought their own kids to experience it.

“All of my friends, when we were growing up, would stay in here eating and cruising around,” said Arturo Karame.

“This used to be our playground. My husband and I used to come here and eat. There’s an eating place we used to come to,” said Caridad Delos Santos.

Some retailers have already closed their doors while others are staying open until the very end.

“We’ve known this day was going to come, so we’ve been very fortunate to have such a long run here,” said Darrell Ching, owner of Novel T World.

We asked business owners what they’ll miss the most and they said hands down they will miss the people, the customers they’ve served all these years.

“It’s an ohana here and we’ve had a lot of customers and we’ve been very fortunate and blessed a lot of these customers that we’ve had have been coming to us for generations,” said Ching.

“Best part of being in business is not so much business, but the people that I ran into,” said Chaeik Kang, owner of Sushi at Ward. “I don’t want to say customer, but we’ve became friends, so that is the most that I’m going to miss.”

Customers can expect to see many of these stores at different locations. The Old Spaghetti Factory will be at Aloha Tower Marketplace, Rix Island Wear is moving to Windward Mall, and many other retailers like Salon Bobbi and Guy will be moving within Ward Village.

A couple of the owners we talked to said this is not goodbye forever.

“We’re kind of semi-retired on what we will be doing next,” said Ching. “We will be doing an online store. We are going to be doing pop-up events and also some craft fairs, so there will be different areas for us to go into so.”

“I think they are trying to put together some retail space around the theater side, but not construction until next year, so I may have a one-year gap so I’ve been looking at doing some different things,” said Kang.

Although the closing is bittersweet, many shoppers say they’re looking forward to the future site.

“It’s great. It’s a great modern era,” Zona Jones said.

“People are sad to see what’s old gone, but they’re also really excited to see what new things are coming aboard as well,” Tulba said.

Todd Apo, vice president of community development at Ward Village, said:

“Tomorrow’s closure of Ward Warehouse is a bittersweet moment. While it ends an amazing run for what has become an iconic location, it also marks the beginning of the next phase for this area, which will include open space and direct views to Kewalo Harbor. Many Ward Warehouse merchants are moving to new locations within Ward Village, and the unique, local retail experience that Ward Warehouse created will continue to be a part of Ward Village shopping.

“We offer a heartfelt mahalo to all Ward Warehouse merchants for sharing a part of their lives with us and creating the warm memories we all share of Ward Warehouse. They have set a foundation for this new urban community’s future.”

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