Aloha wear retailer emerges from bankruptcy

Mark Storfer
Mark Storfer
Mary Burgess
Mary Burgess
Ted Beitelschees
Ted Beitelschees

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Many businesses have shut down because of the sour economy. But one local retailer has managed to survive.

It's a new beginning for Hilo Hattie after filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy about a year ago. It emerged from bankruptcy on Sunday, which is the beginning of its new fiscal year.

Led by proven aloha attire manufacturer Donald Kang, the company plans to focus on giving customers the lowest guaranteed prices.

In it's almost 50 years in Hawaii, Hilo Hattie has never come unbuttoned like it has in the past few years.

Amid low visitor arrivals and a slumping economy, it was forced to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

But within a year, the aloha wear giant is now dressed for success, emerging from bankruptcy.

"Employees are energized and charged and we're very excited to have emerged and to represent Hawaii as the ambassadors of aloha," Hilo Hattie executive vice-president and chief operating officer Mark Storfer said.

The aloha and millions in investments from Royal Hawaiian Creations owner Donald Kang is what kept the fabric of this company from tearing apart.

Hilo Hattie has already implemented some of its plans and its led to a 35 percent boost in sales.

Aiea resident Mary Burgess shops at Hilo Hattie often. It's her main source of clothes for work.

"Feels really good, I'm really happy because I've shopped here for many years that I'm just really pleased that they're gonna be here for a long time," Burgess said.

This is Ted Beitelschees' first time at Hilo Hattie. The news of its emergence from bankruptcy hit a soft spot in him.

"Where I live is 50 miles from Detroit, we know something about industries and companies that are struggling, so that any company that can claw their way out of that I think is worthy of commendation," he said.

Last month, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court granted approval for Hilo Hattie to restructure the company, including the elimination of about 14 million dollars in debt.

It will fulfill its commitment to re-pay unsecured creditors the agreed amounts as outlined in the re-organization plan.