Thursday, June 18, 1998

By Ken Ige, Star-Bulletin
Valery O'Brien, managing director of marketing and promotions
for Victoria Ward Ltd., shows off a model of the planned
Honolulu Pier 1 Imports store.

Pier 1 Imports
picks Ward

The home-furnishing
chain's first Hawaii store
will be one of its biggest

By Peter Wagner


Pier 1 Imports Inc., a top home furnishings chain with hundreds of outlets around the world, will open one of its biggest stores on Victoria Ward Ltd. property in Kakaako.

The store is to be at the current site of Computer City across from Ward Centre on Auahi and Kamakee streets and is to open before the Christmas shopping season.

Computer City, meanwhile, will move across Kamakee Street into a new store twice its current size to compete head-to-head with the new CompUSA Inc. megastore on South Street and Ala Moana.


The joint developments were announced today by Victoria Ward Ltd., as part its long-range plans to develop property between Ward Avenue and Kamakee Street in Kakaako.

"These are two very big steps for us," said Mitch D'Olier, president and CEO of Victoria Ward Ltd. "They fit into our continuing strategy to bring more retail mass to Victoria Ward's destination."

Pier 1 spokeswoman Joy Rich said the 15,000 square-foot store will be larger than most in the Pier 1 chain, which average 9,000 square feet. It was not immediately known how many employees the store will hire but the average Pier 1 employs about ten, the company said.

The shuffle was initiated by Computer City, which was looking for a larger space, D'Olier said. "A dialogue with Pier 1 became a reality as a result," he said. "It all fell together."

The new Computer City, a 30,000 square-foot store under construction on the corner of Queen and Kamakee streets, is scheduled to open in September. The store will add about 25 employees to its current staff of 75 and will feature an Internet cafe, comfortable furniture, a broader range of goods and services, and more parking.

"It'll be a change in concept for us," said Computer City general manager Tim Archangeli.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Pier 1, which is building a distribution center on the West Coast, has been eyeing Hawaii for some time and is looking to open other stores on Oahu and Maui. One site reportedly under negotiation is at Hawaii Kai Towne Center.

The 50-acre West Coast distribution center, to be built in Ontario, Calif., will serve 145 Pier 1 stores in 11 Western states including Hawaii, company officials say.

Rich said Hawaii is an attractive market for upscale home furnishings despite a poor economy. "The typical Pier 1 customer is a baby boomer who is interested in his home," she said. "Even though the economy might not be what it was in Hawaii, the home is still very important and we feel people will continue to invest in their homes."

Products include wicker and rattan furniture and a variety of imported home furnishings.

Plans also call for Farmer's Market to move to space adjacent the future Computer City on Kamakee. That move would free up space Victoria Ward has planned for an 800,000 square-foot retail and entertainment complex anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue and FAO Schwarz. The $200 million project is to be on 15 acres between Ward, Kamakee and Ala Moana and would involve closing Auahi Street between Ward and Kamakee.


New retailer in town

Bullet What: Pier 1 Imports
Bullet When: Before Christmas
Bullet Where: Auahi and Kamakee streets
Bullet Size: 15,000 square feet
Bullet Merchandise: Home furnishings
Bullet Market: Upscale baby boomers

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