STAR-BULLETIN / DECEMBER 2001
Cherrie and Fernando Palacios shop for a Christmas tree at Richard Tajiri's Kapiolani Boulevard lot.
Christmas tree retailer loses sales equipment
Richard Tajiri hopes for a trailer's return before trees arrive on Sunday
DEAR SANTA: All I want is my 28-foot, single-axle trailer back. No questions asked.
OK, so this one might be out of Santa's reach, but Oregon resident Richard Tajiri wants his trailer, and all the equipment stored inside, back so he can be ready to sell Christmas trees after they arrive Sunday.
"Man, this has been depressing," said Tajiri, who has scrambled to find new equipment to set up his business at its traditional Sears parking lot location in Ala Moana Center. Only then can he start selling his famous trees from his native state.
According to the state Department of Agriculture, 91 containers of Christmas trees are scheduled to arrive here Sunday.
For 11 months of the year, Tajiri stores his tents, flocking machines, tree movers, other equipment and supplies in a shipping container parked on Campbell Estate property in Honouliuli.
But when he called to check on the container last month, it was missing.
The property was leased to Kahua Nursery. Tajiri, who has sold Christmas trees in Hawaii for 28 years, said he rented space from someone who subleased from Kahua. In July the nursery returned the property to Campbell Estate. The person from whom he rented space there said he left the container on the property.
"He never called to say he was leaving," Tajiri said.
Most of the missing equipment can only be used by someone in the Christmas tree business. Tajiri has already contacted other sellers to be on the lookout for it.
But the rest of the equipment and supplies, including chain saws, ladders, power cords, water hoses and lumber, are general purpose and can be sold to anybody.
Tajiri said the replacement value of the missing equipment is $25,000. He had some extra equipment in Oregon that is now on its way along with the trees. Other equipment was flown in.
But Tajiri said he would like to get his original equipment back from whoever has it, no questions asked.
"If somebody brings it back to Ala Moana, I'm not going to press charges," he said.
Tajiri's trucker in Hawaii, Kiks Hugho, said the container is an old 28-foot single-axle refrigerator trailer similar to those used by food companies. It is white except for the lower quarter, which is green.
He said it is easy to spot, and he can identify it even if it is painted another color.