Fired TV reporter has Kailua toy shop
What ever happened to former TV newswoman Mary Zanakis?
Answer: Two years after leaving the TV news business, longtime reporter Mary Zanakis has more time with her family and a new career goal.
"I want to be the See's Candy of toys," says Zanakis, speaking of plans to have shelves of pre-wrapped toys ready for purchase at her Kailua shop, Mary's Toys, this Christmas.
After a contentious split from KHON and a stint at KITV, Zanakis left TV in 2004 and opened the toy store because she missed her kids. Her sons are 7, 13 and 19.
"I have two boys at home, and I wanted to be more accessible to them. I loved reporting. It was such a passion," she said, but also an all-consuming job. "Now I lock the door at 5 p.m. I'm home at 5:05 p.m. and the boys are with me."
She moved the store to the more central Kailua Shopping Center about seven months ago. Her Christmas season strategy builds on the free gift-wrapping already offered. As at the candy store chain, unwrapped samples will show customers what they are getting, she said.
Zanakis, 47, said that while growth is slow, "I'm paying the bills, and I'm even able to give myself a little paycheck."
She also recently helped her husband, attorney Thomas Pico Jr., in his state Senate campaign. He lost in the Republican primary.
In 2003 a federal jury ruled in her favor in a lawsuit against KHON, which she claimed fired her for taking maternity leave in 1999. She had worked there for 18 years. The $174,000 she ultimately won was secondary to enforcing the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, Zanakis said in early September.
"The win in itself was worth $1 million. It was the principle of the thing," she recalled. "I got e-mails from all around the country from pregnant women and new moms saying, 'Thank you for taking a stand.'"
This update was written by Star-Bulletin reporter Christine Donnelly.
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