Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in search of brands made in Hawai’i

The Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. Photo credit: Cammy Clark

The directors of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in Maui are putting their marketing efforts on a new program that gives brands and products made in Hawai’i the opportunity to compete for a chance to win a free “basket” or space. store in the center for three months.

The program comes as the center faces foreclosure litigation, seeks to recover from a year of pandemic impacts and looks to the 50th anniversary of next year.

“Last year’s pandemic hit a lot of physical stores, but it also allowed entrepreneurs to pivot and try new things,” said Kauwela Bisquera, general manager of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. “Our islands are rich in wonderful talent and we want to prioritize and celebrate the people and products that make our island so special.”

The winner will receive a basic QKC retail unit, with access to electricity. PC: Queen Ka’ahumanu Center.

The “Start with a Basket” program invites all local businesses, including clothing, accessories, products and services, to apply, with the “basket” referring to the basket space offered.

“We are delighted to revitalize the center,” said Marina Satoafaiga, regional marketing director for Pacific Retail Capital Partners, the management company of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center, noting that this will be the first real event hosted by the center since September. the pandemic has started.

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In a phone interview with Maui Now, she said, “Retail in general has definitely been affected. This is not unique to the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center… We hope to engage the e-commerce or businesses that sprouted during the pandemic and are looking for long term success. We’re looking for someone who’s ready to take the plunge and needs a little push to try their product in a brick and mortar space.

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“It could mean and sound like a lot of different things,” Satoafaiga said, noting that all types of Hawaiian-made groups, products, services and businesses – existing and new – are encouraged to apply before June 18, 2021. Candidates are then invited to join a public selection event on Saturday June 26 from 10 am to 2 pm

At the event, the winner will be determined by a combination of the number of votes received by the general public and a jury made up of representatives from the Maui County Economic Development Office, University of Hawai’i Maui College and the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. Candidates will be judged on different elements, including visuals, product uniqueness and concept. The public is also encouraged to participate with gift bags for the first 200 voters.

The program is made possible through a partnership with the Maui County Economic Development Office, in the hopes of providing businesses with the opportunity to test their product with the community and visitors to Maui at large.

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“Start with a Cart is a risk-free opportunity for emerging Maui entrepreneurs to test a new product in the market,” said Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino. “As our post-pandemic economy accelerates, now is the perfect time to introduce a new product or brand with the support of the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. When residents and visitors buy local produce, dollars stay and flow in our community and that’s always a good thing.

The Start with a Cart program marks the beginning of a more robust return to retail in the coming months for the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. “We are really excited to be rescheduling. It’s been pretty quiet during the current tenure, ”Satoafaiga said, as Maui continues to operate with a 50% capacity restriction for retail facilities.

Hallmark recently closed at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. The storefront is part of a list that remains vacant. PC: Wendy Osher.

Spaces formerly occupied by Hallmark, Pac Sun, Sanrio, Payless Shoe Store and Forever 21 are among the retail spaces that remain empty after closings. Some are decorated with displays or artwork, while others feature marketing material soliciting future tenants.

There is also a investigation place now that encourages the public to share what local brands they would like to see at the center. Participants have a chance to win a $ 50 gift card at a retailer of their choice by June 30. Artists or cultural practitioners who wish to share their talent are invited to contact the marketing department of the center at [email protected] for opportunities.

Management is also looking to bring back Kamaʻāina Nights, the local QKC musical series. “We want to activate the center… As we reopen and terms relax, we look forward to making more announcements to come. We really want to invite the public to be part of the process, ”Satoafaiga said.

“The mission of Pacific Retail Capital Partners is to find the highest and best use for this asset. As consumer needs evolve, we are researching what the next iteration will be, ”Satoafaiga said. “This includes re-engagement with community places and spaces for our kama’āina to come together… QKC and its main stage have been a community center for many years … We are committed to re-activating the main stage and really supporting businesses. Hawaii-based locals. This is going to be the priority right now.

With an estimated area of ​​571,000 square feet, the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center features more than 100 boutiques and restaurants, including Macy’s Island’s only department stores and Sears, national brands such as Victoria’s Secret, Bath & Body Works. , Vans and Champs as well as a fully digital Ka’ahumanu Theater with six rooms.

The main stage at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center (right) served as a community center for many years. On Tuesday, the center court offered produce for sale at a recurring farmer’s market event. Postcard: Wendy Osher

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