Island Snow downsizing to one store
The two Island Snow
lifestyle apparel and board stores at Ala Moana Center
and Royal Hawaiian Center
soon will close, but not because of the economy, dropping visitor counts, gas prices or other business problems, said founder and co-owner James Kodama.
He will keep the Kailua store open, but wants to slow down to have more time with family -- and to surf.
But the economy is bad and visitor numbers and retailing are down, so how can he say the closures aren't a result?
"We've definitely had better years," Kodama said. "My Royal Hawaiian store I think last month was flat, but the three, four months in a row (before that) were a good 20 percent above last year."
"Ala Moana is pretty much a little above (last year) so it's not like we're getting hammered."
At 54, nowhere near retirement age, he likens his decision to the Robert Frost poem "The Road Not Taken."
Banners in the window at the Ala Moana Island Snow convey graphically and verbally his feelings behind his closing decision.
"After almost 30 years in business, I have decided to leave behind the hustle, flow and success of two of Hawaii's busiest retailing communities and retreat back to my little slice of paradise called Kailua. My road has come full circle," he wrote.
Island Snow's last day at Ala Moana, after about 20 years, will be Aug. 31. The roughly 3,000 square-foot space is on the mall level next to the Disney Store.
Kodama has done business at Royal Hawaiian Center, starting with an 8-foot-by-8-foot kiosk, for more than 20 years. He is negotiating an exit from his ground-floor lease and has a national retailer interested in taking over the 4,000 square-foot space. He declined to identify the retailer as it is not ready to make an announcement.
Center General Manager Marleen Akau confirmed there have been discussions, but said "nothing is formalized."
Kodama negotiated two things with the possible new tenant. One, that it would offer jobs to his Waikiki and Ala Moana employees and two, that it would buy Island Snow's unsold inventory.
The new retailer plans "six to eight stores within the next few years. They'll need these people and more," Kodama said.
He formed Island Snow Hawaii Inc. in 1979 and sold shave ice and T-shirts from 374 square feet on the second floor of the International Market Place.
The empire expanded and Island Snow was merged into Kodama Inc. in 1993.
Despite its locale, the Waikiki store sold snowboards and related gear starting in the 1990s and became a top U.S. seller of Burton snowboards.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com