Early shoppers Jill Kuroda and daughter, Lindsey, shop at Wet Seal at Ala Moana Center this morning.

Shop! Shop!
Shop! Shop!

Island residents rise and shine early
to make sure they don’t
miss out on bargains

By Tim Ruel

It wasn't the usual morning today for Hawaii Kai resident and grandfather Pat Chatham. Thank goodness.

He woke at 4:30, drove to Kahala Mall, bought a Game Boy and other gifts at K B Toys. Shoppers were filling three and four bags, spending hundreds of dollars, Chatham said. He got back in the car, drove to Kmart in Iwilei, arriving at a packed parking lot at 5:30, and bought a small children's bicycle for $20, as well as earrings for his wife.

Chatham got back in the car, went to Ala Moana Center, then hit another K B Toys inside Sears. When he checked out at K B, it was 6:30, time to buy tools at Sears for himself. But Chatham wasn't finished shopping yet, he said. His next stop: head back to Kahala Mall, to see if the lines were any shorter.

Chatham was one of thousands of people who stormed isle stores early this morning on the traditional first Christmas shopping day of the season.

He swears this is the first time he's participated in the early-morning rush. "My wife usually does it." But the shopping was surprisingly fun, he said. Traffic was nonexistent and people were courteous. "It was a good experience."

Compared to some people, Chatham was a late riser this morning.

Lorene Bush, of Papakolea, arrived at the Iwilei Kmart this morning before 3:30. She wanted to be first in line, and got her wish. Most people didn't start to hit Kmart until after 4 a.m., but within 45 minutes, more than 200 people had arrived, forming two lines that converged on the doors at the opening at 5 a.m. Before the lines had dispersed into the store, some people were finished shopping.

It wasn't toys Bush, 60, was after. She and her brother were stocking up on patio chairs, priced at $4 each, as well as a mission-style wood futon for $120. "Something for the house," she said. "I just bought a new home," in Makaha. Christmas shopping will come next month for Bush. "I always shop at Kmart."

Over at Sports Authority on Ward Avenue, Laverne Tanaka-Kawaakoa was one of the first to arrive when she showed up at 5:15 a.m. Shortly after 5:30, a crowd began massing outside, and the line stretched around the corner of the building, all the way to the Marukai 99 Cents Store. Doors opened at 6.

Tanaka-Kawaakoa, a Nanakuli resident, said she doesn't normally make such a point of getting first crack at Christmas shopping. But the advertised deals -- $60 for a 10-foot-by-10-foot outdoor canopy and $9 for a pogo stick for her son -- were impossible to resist.

Tanaka-Kawaakoa said she already bought her most important Christmas gifts: four ringside tickets for the World Wrestling Entertainment house show Jan. 2 at Blaisdell Center Arena.

Louise Luciano, a Kailua resident who was in the middle of the line at Sports Authority, said she normally shops at Wal-Mart late at night, after work. This morning, she too was lured in by advertising, particularly a $60 children's bicycle at Kmart, and a larger 21-speed $75 bicycle at Sports Authority. Luciano brought her nephew, Samuel, who woke up at 3 this morning out of excitement, she said.

"We're going right back to bed, because I've got to go to work later today," said Luciano, a bartender at Pali Lanes bowling alley in Kailua. "I think I'm going to do this every year."

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