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O‘ahu Shopping Malls Face Challenges of Middle Age

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

A couple of shopping malls on O‘ahu are dealing with some of the challenges of middle age. Pearlridge Center is 45 years old, and Windward Mall has been around for 35 years. They’re both facing increased competition, and they’re both taking steps to boost their business.  PBN editor-in-chief A. Kam Napier has more.

There have been big changes in the shopping center scene in recent years. Ala Moana’s expansion in town and the new Ka Makana Ali?i shopping center in Kapolei represent, combined, more than $1 billion in new mall construction and enhancements. Ka Makana especially looks like it will attract shoppers who would’ve otherwise ventured to Pearlridge.


So Oahu’s older malls have been sprucing up. Windward Mall had its biggest remodeling in 2007, spending $23 million. Since then, it has continued to evolve its tenant mix, landing Mainland chains like Buffalo Wild Wings, as well as local stores that will keep customers coming back.


Pearlridge just announced a $33 million renovation for its Downtown wing — some of us kama?aina might still remember that as Phase II. As part of the plan, the mall will sacrifice four of its theatres to open up a blank wall as active storefronts.


The general managers of both malls tell PBN they worry as much about online shopping as a competitor as they do any brick-and-mortar alternatives. Both embrace events that tie into store promotions, Windward Mall holds 250 to 300 events a year, often partnering with local non-profits and school groups.


And they are experimenting with technology to enhance the mall experience. Log onto to the mall’s free wi-fi, for example, and you just might find yourself getting a promotional offer from a store.


A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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