For the first time in nearly 2 months, Oahu retailers are open for business

Published: May. 15, 2020 at 5:47 PM HST|Updated: May. 15, 2020 at 5:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time in nearly two months, retailers on Oahu are opening their doors and greeting customers. But the shopping experience is a very different one.

Since getting the approval to reopen Friday, merchants have been sanitizing their stores, posting signs reminding customers to practice social distancing and wear masks and putting up sneeze guards.

They’re not expecting long lines on the first day back. But for now, that’s OK.

“We’re very excited. We’re ready to go. I’m just cautiously optimistic,” said Bradley Ishii, owner of Thinker Things, Thinker Toys and Sanrio. “I know it’s not going to be like it was prior to COVID-19, but I think we’re going to come out really well.”

[Read more: Ala Moana Center is open, but it’s hardly business as usual]

Ishii said he did a deep cleaning and disinfected every toy inside his shop.

“We want to make sure our customers are confident they can come into the store and shop," he said, adding that online sales have been carrying him through the pandemic.

[LIST: Hawaii shopping centers plan reopen dates, new hours]

Although Honolulu’s stay-at-home order has been extended until June 30, shopper Richa Varshney was happy to start seeing some signs of normal life at Kahala Mall.

“It’s been a long time. We’re all locked down. I’m very enthusiastic about opening things up,” she said.

The Refinery in Kahala Mall hasn’t made a single sale since March 19.

“We actually don’t have an online store, so we’ve been completely closed for two months,” said owner Sarra Khan. “So we’ve been putting the social distancing markers in place for lines … we had couple employees here today helping just clean everything, sanitize everything, wipe everything down.”

While many merchants are preparing for reopening Friday, others remain closed.

Honolulu Beerworks in Kakaako still can’t fully open their doors to customers.

But they are getting creative with a “brew-thru.”

"You don't have to have to be anywhere near people. They come in, all they need to do is show their order, they order online. We just need to see their ID, their order number. We just go to the cooler, bring it out, they pop their truck and we put it inside," said manager Charmayne Malloy.

As retailers open up, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell is now asking for the governor’s approval to open some restaurants to limited dine-in service and outdoor seating as soon as June 5.

That’s got Malloy excited.

“If you can get people out and about and it’s safe, that’s the best way to do it,” Malloy said.

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