RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Constant rain for weeks has created many problems, but on the upside, retailers are selling umbrellas like crazy while others are finding greater traffic at the shopping malls. Above, a pedestrian on Sunday used an umbrella to shield himself from the rain as he walked along Ala Moana near South Street.
Retailers find a bright side to the unrelenting rain
Torrential rains have spoiled Waikiki's beaches, drenched Kauai and dampened the dream vacations of untold numbers of visitors over the past month. But the rains have proven to be good for at least one product.
"The number of umbrellas we're selling, it's too many," said Ken Ishimine, operations manager for ABC Stores. "We've been selling tons of umbrellas."
After nearly selling out last week, Ishimine said that the retailer ordered about 400 to 500 more umbrellas to sell from its 37 locations in Waikiki and Ala Moana. Those, too, have nearly sold out, Ishimine said.
"Right now there is a shortage of umbrellas," he said. "We're trying to get in as many as possible."
To be sure, umbrella vendors are not the only ones benefiting from the rains.
"When it rains, the shopping malls are filled; that's just what happens," said Carol Pregill, president of Retail Merchants of Hawaii, a trade association.
But quantifying what the rains have meant for business has been more difficult. Consolidated Theatres won't say how many more movie tickets it's selling, although a spokesman said that as a rule more people go to movies when it rains.
The malls, meanwhile, were still trying to get a handle on the numbers.
"Just observing the levels of foot traffic, it's been substantially more than we normally see," said Ron Yoda, general manager of Kahala Mall.
Deborah Sharkey, a spokeswoman for Pearlridge Center, concurred.
"I'm hearing that traffic is good, the merchants are happy, and that there are large numbers of people in the center," Sharkey said.
"We'd like to see it end anyway," Yoda said. "It's driving everybody crazy."
Until then, some merchants will continue to stock up on umbrellas.
"We anticipate getting more in either today or tomorrow," Ishimine said.