No holding back ardent shoppers at Target party


POSTED: Sunday, March 08, 2009

I was the first customer through the door at the new Salt Lake Target store. Not at the soft opening Wednesday, but the night before, at what was billed as a VIP reception.

More than 500 employees invited four people each, so the crowd topped 2,000. (No, I am not going to tell you how I got in first.) I watched as the new employees in their red-orange aloha wear, looking both jubilant and a little scared, snapped pictures of the crowd from behind the glass door, then got out of the way. Several high-fived me on the way in.

The Target people had assured me that there would be “;shopping opportunities”; at the reception. Once in, my wife and daughter spun off in different directions, leaving me standing alone at the dim sum cart.

The crowd flowed in, pausing only to grab big red shopping carts. Both the dim sum lady and I got out of the aisle.

Target is a nice, shiny, brand-new store, but it's just a store. New employees kept asking me, “;Can I help you with something?”; as they'd spent six weeks training to do. No, just wandering.

I asked new employee Keith Hong what he used to do. “;Sold cell phones in Costco,”; he said. “;This is less money, but I was going crazy standing in that little kiosk all day.”;

My cell phone buzzed. “;The Target dog is here!”; said my wife. “;You have to take a picture with him.”;

She's a her, it turns out, Bullseye, a 5-year-old white bull terrier, wearing a hibiscus and ginger lei, the Target logo painted around her left eye.

Bullseye is a pro, from Worldwide Movie Animals in Saugus, Calif. She travels with her own makeup artist and her trainer, Megan Frasier. For an hour, Bullseye always looked directly at the camera whenever Frasier held up her palm. “;She seems to like posing,”; said Frasier. “;It's only hard to keep her focused when people are walking by with plates of food.”;

What about handling the people jostling for a photo? “;Oh,”; said Frasier, “;That's not my job, that's much tougher.”;



“;Talk about coming full circle,”; said Dean Pitchford. “;I just talked to the students of Star of the Sea, where in third grade I learned Hawaii had just become a state and we went out and had one bon dance in the parking lot of what's now Kahala Mall.”;

Pitchford went to elementary school at Star of the Sea and then was turned down by Punahou and Iolani because, he says, he needed financial aid. Saint Louis gave him a scholarship, so he's back to do a little payback, teaching two weeks of classes at his old high school. Plus showing up at a $100-a-ticket fundraiser.

Pitchford's been on Broadway and in 100 commercials. He's got an Oscar, a Golden Globe, six Grammy nominations. But he's mainly famous for having written the screenplay and the songs for the movie “;Footloose.”;

Twenty-five years after the movie release, “;Footloose — The Musical”; is still touring from Scandinavia to South Africa and being mounted on regional and high school stages, including Saint Louis, where it runs through March 22.

There may be someone on the planet, a Masai tribesman perhaps, who doesn't immediately recognize the catchy stutter-step drum riff that kicks off the title song.

“;When I go to South Africa for the tour,”; says Pitchford, “;I'm going to find that tribesman and play it for him.”;



At the last Waialae Country Club “;Hawaiian Night,”; three former governors — George Ariyoshi, John Waihee and Ben Cayetano — were chowing down on the laulau and listening to Melveen Leed perform.

Leed and emcee Emme Tomimbang badgered them, “;loquacious Kalihi-style,”; says Tomimbang, to get up on stage and sing.

Ariyoshi was the best of the lot, singing “;Koko Ni Sachi Ari.”; But after all three finished, Leed said, “;I love you guys, but I hope you guys play better golf than how you sing.”;



Kailua's Jayme Newhouse spends a lot of time backstage at the Blaisdell. She's a masseuse, and has massaged the likes of Sean Penn and Sting.

She got a call to loosen up 65-year-old Steve Miller before his concert last Sunday. (Miller did a single night in Honolulu, because he was here anyway having played a two-night private party in Kona.)

“;Usually with celebrities, they are all strict: Don't ask for anything, no tickets, no autographs,”; says Newhouse. “;But Steve Miller was all: 'Have you had dinner? Eat something. Stay for the show.'

“;Then he got on stage and really tore it up, really amazing for a guy with gray hair and glasses,”; says Newhouse.



“;I miss Maui,”; said Mick Fleetwood over the phone from Chicago. Fleetwood and John McVie, who lives on Oahu, have reunited with their Fleetwood Mac bandmates for a “;Greatest Hits Unleashed North American Tour.”;

The band just released an album that their publicist calls “;their greatest, greatest, greatest hits,”; plus a special DVD/CD boxed edition of their 1977 album, “;Rumours,”; which has sold 30 million copies already.

The band's four dates into the tour. “;Business is incredible,”; notes Mick. “;We are truly blessed to have loyal fans in this strange economic time.”; But, he notes, both he and McVie now have “;too thin blood”; to be happy in cold climes.

He's going to take advantage of a break in the Fleetwood Mac touring schedule to fly back and do a few island dates with Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, the members of which now, like Fleetwood, live on Maui. Their “;Blues Again”; album, not yet released as a CD, climbed to No. 18 on the iTunes sales chart immediately after release.



John Heckathorn is editor of Hawaii Magazine and director of integrated media for the aio Group.