18 years ago, Liberty House closed. For former employees, it seems like yesterday

Published: Aug. 13, 2019 at 2:02 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Former Liberty House employees reconnected over the weekend, 18 years after the end of the beloved local department store chain.

Saturday's celebration at Pearl Country Club was the first reunion for everyone who used to work for the company.

"It was a fun place to work and I think that showed to the customers because we gave great customer service," said former employee Tod Matsumoto.

The festivities featured photo displays, old uniforms, and other mementos that brought back fond memories.

"I think anybody that grew up here remembers the long lines outside for the Zooper and Safari sales," said former employee Kim Gennaula.

At its peak, Liberty House had 45 to 50 stores with about 4,200 employees.

After the company emerged from bankruptcy, Macy's took over the department store chain in 2001.

Some employees stayed on while others lost their jobs.

"That was like half my working life," said reunion co-chair Randy DeGuzman. "I'm sure everyone was shocked, but it was sink or swim."

For many, including the former CEO of Liberty House, the celebration gave them closure.

"All the time people come up to me and say, 'I miss Liberty House,'" said John Monahan. "I think what they're saying is, 'I miss the people. I miss the family feel that I had, the familiarity that I had with Liberty House stores.'"

While there are no plans for a future reunion, those who showed up are grateful they finally had a chance to reconnect with one another.

“Those memories that we shared through all those years, I’m sure it’s embedded deep in everyone’s hearts,” said DeGuzman.

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