HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For months, Hawaii store owners and residents have prepared for the end of Ward Warehouse — and now it's finally here.
"It's time to say goodbye and mahalo to an old favorite," flyers posted around stores said.
Maile Meyer, owner of Na Mea Hawaii and Native Books, has helped with the transition by creating spaces for community poets, artists, musicians and more to occupy and entertain as stores begin to close down.
"No one is delusional about it closing down, we are just trying to transition," Meyer said. "We made all of these other spaces to prove the point that people can enjoy being together and have a conversation… that's what aloha is about. So our response has been to carry on and affirm creative process."
For many that means hosting hula classes, practicing art or opening exhibits and galleries, much of which will be highlighted at Ward Warehouse's hui hou party.
The party, just mere hours before closing down, will be held Sunday, July 30 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. There will be food, drinks, live music, authors, artists and creative activities.
All stores are instructed to cease business Monday. Developers will begin tearing down the community gathering place to make way for new luxury condos.
As for the businesses, some will relocate to Ward Village and others like Novel T World will convert to online stories.
"Over 30-percent of them are moving within Ward Village...and then another about one-third of them were really ready to put their businesses to bed,...and then the other third, we really worked with them to find them new locations," said Todd Apo, vice president for community development for Howard Hughes.
Allison Izu Song had a design and retail store at the warehouse for about a year before moving her business to Kaimuki. She said the space will be missed.
"Everyone was so supportive, a lot of local businesses in Ward Warehouse, so everybody supported us and kind of sent customers our way and made sure we were taken cared of," she said.
Ward Warehouse has been around since 1975. That's more than 40 years of customers building special family memories at the shopping center.
"I brought my prom dress here when I was 16," Meyer said. "And I'm 60."
And she isn't the only one who will remember days and weekends spent walking through the various shops. Meyer's believes many like her will feel nostalgic when stores close their doors for the last time, but for now she hopes people will enjoy and celebrate its final days.
Community members, residents and tourists are sad to see it go, but now they have an opportunity to celebrate what Ward Warehouse has given and represented in the community — aloha.