CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
A strong supporter of literacy programs, Wally Amos is pictured with the Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop statue at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center. "When I saw that sculpture, I said to myself, I will be at this location. I knew that this was the place to be," Amos said.
Wally Amos bringing Chip & Cookie to Waikiki
The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center will house the company's second location
Wally Amos is aiming to bring his fame and a Chip & Cookie store to the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki.
He's been negotiating with center owner Kamehameha Schools for the past few weeks and expects have a lease signed soon for a second-floor spot. He plans to open the store in June.
The second Chip & Cookie store on Oahu is expected to measure about 750 square feet, and will be in Building C, next door to the newest Apple Inc. outlet and just a few doors down from Hilo Hattie's flagship store.
Standing at the new center's Royal Grove, he said he couldn't wait to read books to children seated on the rocks surrounded by coconut trees.
Amos said he was also inspired by the bronze statue of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, which was unveiled in late December, and depicts her sitting on a beach reading to a child.
"When I saw that sculpture, I said to myself, I will be at this location," Amos told the Star-Bulletin. "I knew that this was the place to be."
Amos said he's taking a chance on Waikiki because he expects to get plenty of foot traffic there, from locals as well as visitors.
Amos had a store at the Royal Hawaiian once before, in the late 1970s, for a couple of years.
"So all I'm doing is going back home," he said.
His strategy is to let the aroma of fresh-baked cookies waft out into the shopping center to bring people in.
"It's going to be floating all over the center," he said. "All people are going to have to do to find me is to follow their nose."
Amos, 71, has had his shares of ups and down in his business career over the decades.
His Famous Amos cookie empire -- which he first launched in 1975 using a family recipe for bite-sized cookies in Hollywood -- initially did well, but eventually went downhill, and he lost control of the company. Kellogg Co. eventually bought the Famous Amos line, which is now mass-produced.
In the 1990s he founded another venture, Uncle Noname Co., in Long Island, N.Y., but that company also shut down.
Yet Amos has always been able to bounce back.
Amos six years ago came back with Uncle Wally's Muffin Co., which sells muffins at Costco Wholesale, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. His Chip & Cookie company also sells cookie dough at Costco.
The first Chip & Cookie retail store opened in Kailua town 2 1/2 years ago, measuring a little over 800 square feet.
The Waikiki Chip & Cookies is expected to have the same layout, which includes a counter where customers can order fresh-baked cookies by 1-pound bags, buy Chip & Cookie dolls, Amos's children's books, inspirational books, logo items and memorabilia.
The Waikiki store is also going to have a reading room to support Amos's favorite cause -- literacy. Amos says 10 percent of profits from his companies continue to go to the Read it LOUD! Foundation.
There's room for improvement as far as the Kailua store is concerned, admitted Amos, but he plans to keep the first location up and running.
"It's very dear to me," he said. "It's my very first store and it's a great town. It's where I live."
But he's expecting the exposure from the Waikiki store to bring more business for the Kailua store, which simply doesn't have the same level of traffic.
Amos says if he can just get 5 percent of the 1 million or so visitors expected to pass through the nearby Hilo Hattie store, he'll be fine.
Amos, 71, has four children, five grandchildren ranging from ages 2 to 25, and one great-granddaughter. He's not planning to slow down any time soon.
"Why retire," he said, "when you're still living?" He continues to travel around the country as a professional and inspirational speaker.
Among new products he hopes to bring to Waikiki are the famous Chip & Cookie dolls (designed by his artist wife Christine) dressed Hawaiian-style, along with a new coconut cookie.
Two new children's books are also expected to be launched at the grand opening of the store.
"I believe in all things Hawaiian," he said. "The fact that the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center wants to bring Hawaiiana back to Hawaii -- that's so precious and I'm hoping to be a part of that. It can't get any better than that."