Erika Engle

Imported Tommy Bahama
business to grow in Hawaii soil

A company with headquarters in Seattle and New York City plans to expand in Hawaii, selling its brand of aloha shirts and island apparel, accessories and home furnishings.

Tommy Bahama is planning a second Hawaii "compound," or combined retail store and full-service restaurant, at The Shops at Mauna Lani on the Big Island.

The Shops are currently a graded lava field, according to Eric Smith, president of Kaulana Corp., which is in charge of finding tenants. The development is nearly 50 percent leased, with incoming tenants including Brighton Accessories, Black Pearl Gallery, Mark's Fine Jewelry, Big Island Art and Design, and Maryl Realty Inc. Plans call for additional eateries and shops.

Maryl Group Inc. is developing the shops as well as The Villages at Mauna Lani, 450 homes adjacent to the retail and restaurant complex.

The Tommy Bahama space is "on the western end of the project overlooking one of the golf greens and out onto the ocean. It's a two-story, 10,000-square-foot retail and restaurant space similar to the (compound at) The Shops at Wailea," he said. Smith and partner John Foti also lease the Wailea center.

The probable opening date of The Shops at Mauna Lani is Dec. 1, 2004, Smith said.

Meanwhile, Tommy Bahama is seeking a managing chef, commonly known as an executive chef, for its Tropical Cafe in Wailea.

Other retail and restaurant compounds are in Naples, Sarasota and West Palm Beach, Fla.; Palm Desert and Newport Beach, Calif.; and Wailea. The next is to open in Scottsdale, Ariz., in November, according to Vision Keeper Jerry Alajajian.

Yes, the company does have unusual titles. "We're a very unusual company," Alajajian said.

The Big Island compound will be No. 8 for the company, which also has retail-only stores at Ala Moana Center and at Whaler's Village in Kaanapali. The branded apparel and accessories are also widely available through dozens of other retailers in Hawaii.

Tommy Bahama is the lifestyle brand name used by Seattle-based Viewpoint International Inc.

Since opening for business in Wailea on Jan. 13, 2001, Tommy Bahama has become a sought-after sponsor. The recent Maui Film Festival was sponsored by the company, according to publicist Janet Orsi of Los Angeles-based Orsi Public Relations.

Orsi laughs about the coals-to-Newcastle aspect of marketing Tommy Bahama in the islands. Selling an island lifestyle is exotic and fun on the mainland, where the so-called compounds are built in resort destinations, she said, "but what do you say about it in Hawaii?"

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

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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