Huckleberry Farms to close up shop


POSTED: Thursday, October 01, 2009

Huckleberry Farms, a natural health foods store at Nuuanu Shopping Plaza, is closing after 24 years in business.

The store is clearing out its inventory with a 30 percent discount starting tomorrow, and expects to move out by the end of October.

Customers will find many of the shelves in the grocery store are already half-empty.

“;It's a combination of the economic downturn and other factors,”; said owner Pete Pascua.

Walgreen Co. of Deerfield, Ill., bought the leasehold interest to the plaza last year and plans to redevelop the site and eventually open a store, although no specific timeline has been set.

Huckleberry Farms has agreed to the termination of its lease.

A total of about 25 full- and part-time employees will lose their jobs at the store, although some have found other jobs, according to Pascua.

Customers absorbed the news with sadness, some even breaking into tears, according to Pascua. Many longtime customers are used to being greeted on a first-name basis by the store's employees.

“;I am very sad and shocked,”; said Karen Walker of Kailua, who was stopping in to pick up a few items when she learned the news.

Walker has been a regular for three years and comes in for salads and produce, as well as oatcakes.

“;The people here are great,”; she said.

Huckleberry Farms has two different spaces at the plaza — about 2,900 square feet for the grocery store near Hungry Lion restaurant and another 1,500 square feet for vitamins and beauty products near Supercuts.

Huckleberry Farms carries organic produce, along with a frozen section, organic baby foods, juices, Earth-friendly cleaning products and rows of bins with bulk items, including cornmeal, whole wheat flour, granola, raw pine nuts and bulk honey.

There is also a small deli section offering soups, salads and sandwiches.

Pascua calls it a “;one-stop shop”; where one can find health foods, including eggs and hormone-free meats, along with organic produce, vitamins and beauty products.

While Huckleberry Farms will become history at Nuuanu, Pascua, 55, said there was a possibility the store could find another location.

“;We're too young to retire,”; he said. “;We may find another space.”;