Windward Mall will
welcome Marukai

Marukai 99 Superstore in May will open a 7,000 square-foot second floor space in Windward Mall, with an option on a second spot.

As reported in TheBuzz last May, Richard Matsu was looking for space on the Windward side and in Hawaii Kai for his value-retail concept. At the time, he was days away from the Memorial Day weekend opening of his 20,000-square-foot Marukai 99 Cents Superstore in Waipahu.

Now he's moving into spaces previously leased by The Gap and Purr-fect Paws.

The word "cents" is absent from the mall location's name, but each item will be 99 cents.

Forever? "Uh-huh," Matsu said.

"Because local people have been helping us and supporting us, we can do this kind of business," he said. "The economy is so poor, so we try to do something to help people economize."

His two buyers constantly impress him with the merchandise they find on the mainland, in Japan and elsewhere. "I surprise myself, 'wow, this is 99 cents?' So if I can surprise myself I think we are doing something right," Matsu said.

The smaller Kaneohe location will offer 5,000 items vs. more than 8,000 at the Waipahu store.

Marukai will hire about 30 new employees, bringing its work force up to 280, Matsu said. The main office of Marukai Corp. will handle inquiries.

Marukai also has two membership grocery stores, another 99 cent store on Ward Avenue and an adjacent health and beauty store. Windward Mall General Manager Jonathan Kim hopes Matsu will bring another concept to the mall, rather than expanding the 99 cents store.

The mall's research shows that Windward residents want more value stores, Kim said. "We're trying to create a hybrid mall that offers regular retail as well as value."

Matsu doesn't believe the Windward location will hurt sales at the other Marukai stores. He also doesn't see himself as direct competition to Price Busters, which leases 7,569 square feet in two first-floor mall spaces, in addition to eight other locations around Oahu.

Price Busters is a division of ERT Sales of Hawaii "I think competition is healthy. I think it'll be great for the Windward side," said ERT President Beth Tom.

She doesn't believe Marukai is trying to be Price Busters, but is rather trying to carve out its own niche. Price Busters carries 28,000 items at discount prices.

"I think Windward Mall is a sleeping giant," she said.

Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin.
Call 529-4302, 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

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