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Aloha ‘Oe Sears Ala Moana

Sears in the Ala Moana Shopping Center will soon close its doors for good this Sunday, June 2, 2013. In its present state as of this writing, the store is pretty much just an empty shell of its former self. Which to be honest, as I looked around inside, I almost shed a tear, feeling a sense of personal loss, being like many of you, I grew up with Sears as a fixture of Ala Moana, dating back to the center’s beginning in 1959. In fact, my new stainless steel kitchen appliances were purchased at Sears Ala Moana, as was most of my dress slacks and dress shirts for work.


Macy’s Ala Moana upper level Diamond Head entrance

At least when Liberty House parted, a similar store took its place with Macy’s. However, in the case with Sears, Ala Moana Center owner General Growth plans to demolish the entire Ewa wing after Sears leaves, then “reinvent” and rebuild that portion of the mall, adding 650,000 square feet of additional retail space. Bloomingdale’s will take up 167,000 square feet on three levels similar to Sears, with the remainder occupied by large-format retailers, dining, entertainment and inline retail space.

Fortunately Sears as a public company is still alive, with the closing of Ala Moana part of a restructuring plan of their portfolio for shareholders, as well as an overall renewed perception by the general public. Whether that happens, we’ll see. In the mean time, Sears continues to operate two other locations here on Oahu in Windward Mall and Pearlridge.

Ala Moana Center is General Growth’s most productive mall with sales surpassing $1,200 per square foot, said Shobi Khan, the company’s chief operating officer.

Let’s now take a photographic walk (using my SG Note II) around Sears Ala Moana, this being on the 5th and 4th day prior to their final closing. Enjoy… or should I say, let’s cry together…


Sears Ala Moana mall level Diamond Head entrance 5.28.13

That may look like Sears on any given day, however, let’s now point the camera in another direction….


Sears Ala Moana mall level facing the Mauka entrance from the mall entrance  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level facing the Mauka entrance from the center near the escalators  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level standing near the Ewa entrance  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level facing the mauka near the escalators.  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level escalators  5.28.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level escalators facing the Ewa entrance from center of store  5.28.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level near shoe department (what was once that)  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level near shoe department (what was once that)  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level near shoe department (what was once that)  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level facing Ewa entrance from center of store  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level clothing department (what was once that)  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level looking toward the Makai entrance  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level Makai-Mauka corner of store  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level mens clothing department (what was once that)  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level facing into the store from the Ewa entrance  5.28.13


Sears Ala Moana mall level left of Ewa Entrance, what was once the Tuxedo shop  5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level escalator looking from garden department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level garden department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level escalator looking automotive department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level escalator looking from garden department 5.29.13

Now that we’re downstairs around the escalator area, I just wanted to note, that I SWEAR you can still smell the scent of fresh-made popcorn permeated into the concrete walls. Remember when Sears used to sell hot popcorn down there? I do!


Sears Ala Moana street level garden department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level garden department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level looking into electronics entrance from garden department near escalator 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level store corner near the vendor services department (Oceanic Cable, Embroidery Shop & Gift Wrap shop). 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level automotive department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level vendor services department (Oceanic Cable, Pack-Wrap & Custom Embroidery) 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department 5.29.13

Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department facing into Zippy’s entrance (now closed) 5.29.13

 


Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level hardware department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level garden department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to electronics & appliances department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level electronics department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to electronics department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to electronics department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to electronics department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to electronics department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to electronics & appliances department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to appliances (washers & dryers) department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level entrance to appliances (washers & dryers) department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level appliances (ovens & stoves) department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level appliances department 5.29.13


Sears Ala Moana street level appliances department near Makai entrance 5.29.13

In its final days, Sears Ala Moana’s 3rd floor was closed off from the public, the mall level floor was dedicated to selling off clearance merchandise, while the street level floor section that previously was home to their electronics and major appliances department was where they were selling off retail merchandising and operations items, including shelving, display bins, racks, cabinets, hardware, office and maintenance equipment and supplies, and other miscellaneous items related to their daily operations. Here’s a look at some of what was being sold off at highly discounted prices…


Mannequins $125 each


Mannequins $125 each


Clothing racks


Galvanized steel and Douglas Fir backstock room shelving uprights (the hardware that supports the shelves) $7 each. 24″x48″x3/4″ untreated CDX plywood shelves were selling for $6 each.


Pegboard $10 and $20 per sheet


They had 6 of these glass display cases left on my visit, which were selling for $220 each

The backside of the glass display case included multiple LOCKED drawers to store the backstock of whatever it is in the case.


Shoe display shelving $150 each

 


Shoe Display Shelving $125 each

 


Clothing Racks (unassembled)


Department signs (eBay perhaps?)


Eyewear spinner display racks $125 each


24″x48″ heavy-duty wire retail merchandising baskets in excellent condition for just $6 each


Hardware department vented floor tiles $1.25 per square foot (I’d try bargaining them down to 75 cents each in bulk)

Back upstairs at mall level, some merchandise on clearance blowout…

Once again, Sears Ala Moana’s final day will be tomorrow, Sunday, June 2, 2013. *Tears falling*

What are your memories of Sears Ala Moana? Did you buy all your major appliances there? School or work clothes? Change your car’s oil, tires, battery and brakes? Work there?


Sears & Roebuck Building on Beretania and Young Street, circa 1954, before Sears moved to Ala Moana in 1959. Building became headquarters for the Honolulu Police Department in 1967. *Photo courtesy of CharlesPhoenix.com.

Related news on the closure of Sears Ala Moana
Small shops inside Sears Ala Moana scramble to find new homes as closure nears – HawaiiNewsNow.com
Bloomingdale’s to open first Hawaii store at Ala Moana Center – Pacific Business News

P.S. You all know Apple Store has been in Ala Moana (as well as Kahala Mall and the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki) for a number of years now…

Well, soon to come and play the “Home Depot vs. Lowes stone throwing” retail game is Microsoft Store…

The Microsoft Store in Ala Moana will open on June 13, 2013, located literally within a stone throwing distance from, and practically right across Apple store on the mall level. Unbelievable.

I swear to God, with Android, and now this? Steve Jobs is definitely turning in his grave. LOL!!!

26 thoughts on “Aloha ‘Oe Sears Ala Moana

  • June 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm
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    Pomai, I remember as a child my parents always buy lot of home products at Sears. Sewing machine, washing machine and stove all Kenmore brand. When Woolworth was closing my sister got a sewing machine for free due worker was mad and just gave it to her . She still use it and it great.

    Reply
  • June 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm
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    That was the single most profitable Sears in the world. Its passing will also mean about 10 local vendors will also be disappear from the area. The last really good key and trophy shop. Good kaukau for those in the know. And the only tire, oil, safety check and battery place in the area that was truly efficient and convenient. This will make Waikiki a far less comfortable place to live.

    Reply
  • June 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm
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    Oh. And by the way. The one on Kauai is pau to.

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  • June 2, 2013 at 12:33 am
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    @ pat – I wonder where Time Warner Cable will be relocating. The new Microsoft Store, perhaps? Ooooooooohhhh, ouch! lol While I didn’t go in there this past trip to Maui a week ago, I believe the Sears in Ka’ahumanu Shopping Center is still there.

    @ kelike – wow, nice score on the sewing machine from Woolworths! Perhaps at Sears Ala Moana tomorrow on their last day, they’ll be pretty much giving whatever they have left away. I really don’t get why they’re even keeping even inventory there when they have other stores on Oahu it could easily be transferred to and sold at regular sale prices with more margins, which is what the company needs. No room, perhaps?

    Reply
  • June 2, 2013 at 10:22 am
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    I remember shopping for school clothes when I was in grade school. Had to shop there because they carried the Husky brand jeans that were made for my special body type. lol.

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    • June 2, 2013 at 11:11 am
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      kobi,

      I had to actually Google what Husky brand jeans were all about when you mentioned body type. I was never into jeans (don’t have any right now), but the few I did have over the years were Levis.

      If you wanna’ talk old school clothing brands, we MUST mention Angel Flight pants and Famolare shoes with those thick wavy souls. Classic!… and embarrassing. lol

      In high school, the trend for teen fellahz during my time around the mid-80’s were Vans slip-on skate shoes worn without socks. God, it got nasty after a few months of use. lol

      Remember Dove shorts for the gals? Hot stuff back then! :hypnotized:

      Reply
  • June 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm
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    Wow, this is really sad. Gosh I remember going to Sears Ala Moana with the family back when we first moved to the islands (late 60s). Back-to-school clothes shopping, plus muumuus and aloha shirts best selection. I’ll miss going to Zippy’s when I visit (walking distance from hotel). Anyone remember there used to be a chinese restaurant down stairs from the mall level entrance…would’ve been below Longs? My family used to go there a lot. The food was okay, but as a kid I was scared of the place because part of it was dark (candle-lit) and I had seen cockroaches a couple times!

    Reply
    • June 5, 2013 at 8:57 pm
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      You must be referring to Coral Reef by the escalator below Longs. They had good Crispy Gau Gee Min and Wor Won Ton Min…

      Reply
  • June 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm
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    I think everyone during the 40’s on up had charge accounts at Sears. We bought clothes, furnitures, appliances, toys, etc.; from Sears. It serviced a few generations well! God Bless them for a job well done for soooo many years. Aloha Sears and Mahalo so plenty.

    Reply
  • June 3, 2013 at 5:47 am
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    @ Julie – You must be referring to when Sears was located in the Sears and Roebuck Building at King, Young and Beretania. Long after Sears left for Ala Moana in 1959, that building was converted into the headquarters for the Honolulu Police Department in 1967, which after they left, was torn down and turned into a new development.

    http://improvunderdogs.wordpress.com/2010/03/26/black-and-white-photos-from-honolulu-hawaii-of-the-past/

    @ Ann – I’m sure Zippy’s isn’t going to wait too long to relocate somewhere else in Ala Moana Center, or at least nearby.

    Hey, speaking of convenience, I heard Highway Inn, famous for their Hawaiian food way out in WaipaHOO is going to expand with another location on Ala Moana Boulevard in the Six Eighty building next to Starbucks, across the Gold Bond Building. Yay!!!!

    I asked several old timers I know if they remember that Chinese restaurant you’re asking about, and none can recall it. One person said there used to be a coin shop right outside Sears on the Piikoi side, where the automotive department and Zippy’s is/was.

    Reply
    • June 5, 2013 at 9:07 pm
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      Ann…the Chinese Restaurant was Coral Reef by the escalator next to Sears. Longs was above the restaurant.

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      • June 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm
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        PA, huge mahalo for contributing that info’ on Coral Reef Chinese Restaurant. Apparently that was yet another entity of Andy Wong’s Honolulu restaurant empire…

        http://www.honolulupulse.com/food-drink/byrons-drive-in-to-close-in-2013

        According to Rodney over at MidLifeCrisisHawaii.com, Coral Reef was located below Shirokiya, likely where Byron II eventually was, not below Sears.

        Reply
      • June 6, 2013 at 10:07 am
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        That’s it! Thanks for remembering. I used to love the cantonese shrimp (I think that’s what it was). 8-)

        Reply
  • June 3, 2013 at 2:23 pm
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    Hi Pomai,
    Wow- surely it’s a passing of an era! I was just telling my daughter about the popcorn when I read your reference to it. I remember they used to have a whole candy kiosk down there with popcorn, Brachs brand candy (including candy corn), and other assorted candies, and I also want to say Icees too. I can’t say I had fond memories of Sears but memories for sure! Thanks for posting this and for your blog- I enjoy reading it!

    Karen

    Reply
    • June 4, 2013 at 5:57 am
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      Karen,

      I only vaguely remember the candy kiosk and Icee… just that strong smell of fresh popcorn sold in large old school style movie theater boxes on the bottom floor. The popcorn smell was so strong, it would waft up to the other floors. I don’t recall Sears selling much else food-wise. Rodney over at MidLifeCrisisHawaii.com says he vaguely remembers Sears Ala Moana having a Coffee Shop on the Ewa side of the Mall level. I don’t remember that. I remember Woolworth’s having a separate coffee shop in Ala Moana.

      Some major departments that weren’t around in more recent years folks have recalled include Sears Lawn & Garden Center (big like the home improvement stores), as well as a large record & cassette department (what’s that?!) and toy department.

      While Zippy’s on the Ewa street level side is closed, there’s was still a Coffee bistro shop (forget the name) operating in the services area on the other side by the electronics department. The AT&T store and beauty shop were also still in operations when I took those photos just last week. As mentioned before, the manager for the AT&T store told me they hadn’t yet gotten word of having to move out. Strange.

      While Sears wasn’t known for food service, it would be safe to say prior to the modern warehouse club/big box invasion that started with Costco at Salt Lake in 1988, most major kitchen appliances in Oahu homes were purchased at Sears. My family bought all our appliances from Sears, and the ones in my kitchen today are from there. Granted they’re GE, not Kenmore brand (I’ve had excellent reliability experiences with GE’s major appliances).

      Reply
      • June 5, 2013 at 9:18 am
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        Pomai,
        I remember the Windward Mall Sear having a snack shop on the ground level. After getting out at King School we would go there for the chocolate dipped ice cream cones.

        Reply
  • June 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm
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    When I was going to UH in the late 90’s, I used to go to Ala Moana on the weekends and would stop at Sears to look at the CD’s, electronics, etc. and also eat at Zippy’s downstairs, so while not from Oahu, I do have memories of Sears. And yes, the Sears here on Maui is still up and running.

    Thanks for the link to the new Highway Inn location. My uncle’s family owns the restaurant so I’ve been to the Waipahu location a few times when on Oahu. We always stay at the Ala Moana Hotel so this location will be more convenient for us to go to.

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    • June 5, 2013 at 8:20 pm
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      @ kobi – The longest lasting “fixture” at Windward Mall (next to Sears) has got to be Cinnabon and Hot Dog on a Stick. Weird, right?

      @ David – speaking of still up and running, amazing how Ah Fook’s in Kahului and Takamiya Market in Happy Valley, Wailuku withstood the test of time, prospering to this day. I was just there the other week, and it’s still the same! Classic old school Hawaii plantation style stores! I’ve got lots of photos that I’ll share later.

      Seriously though, Maui’s flights on all carriers are PACKED, both going in and out, which inconvenienced me at least a bit notably. Plan on going to Maui this summer? Plan WAY ahead.

      Reply
  • June 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm
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    I am so sad to hear of Sears Ala Moana closing. I worked there from the mid 80’s until the mid 90’s and have to say that I have some really great memories and some wonderful friends that came from those days. I would be lying if I said that it did not bring a tear to my eye when I heard the news. While her heyday was many years ago and in recent years had been showing her age it is worth noting that a grand old girl has slipped away and she will be sadly missed by so many. R.I.P. Sears Ala Moana

    Reply
  • June 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm
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    I moved to Oahu in 1984 and my first job was working for a local sign company. One of my first projects was to install the six foot tall SEARS letters on the side of the building. Each letter required 2 holes drilled completely through the side of the building for the electrical as well a dozen smaller holes to anchor the letter to the outside of the building. It was the first time I had ever worked off of scaffolding that high (40 + feet). It was satisfying for me to look up and see that sign whenever I drove by through the years and say “I did that”.

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  • June 8, 2013 at 9:20 am
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    @ Kirk – It would be great if someone here in Hawaii opened a sign museum, similar to what they have in Las Vegas for all those classic old neon and lighted animated signs from the hotels & casinos.

    Every time I look at the now closed Sam Choy’s Breakfast Lunch & Crab on Nimitz Highway, I always think how cool it would be to preserve that now iconic and well-designed neon and light can sign. That’s just one of many here, including now adding one of those Sears signs you installed on to the list. I hear they restored the classic Club Hubba Hubba sign in Chinatown. Also another one near McKinley High School. Problem is, unlike cheap and vast open dessert land in Nevada, the land here in Hawaii — no matter where — is just too expensive to make such a museum feasible.

    @ Roger – good to hear such positive and fond memories of Sears Ala Moana coming from a former employee’s perspective. And you were there for quite a long time! Mahalo for sharing!

    I was just there the other night, post closing day, and all the windows were covered with paper, except for the bottom floor where the appliances department was. It looked like they still had quite a bit of retail fixtures and shelving to sell off, so that part appeared to be still open (earlier in the day). IIRC, they said they have about a week post-closing to liquidate fixtures. I think the staff running that are third party, not Sears employees. Also, all the adjoining businesses within Sears on the ground floor, including the beauty shop, coffee bistro and cell phone dealer were all gone.

    Seeing and hearing locals walk by and make comments, I could sense a feeling of disbelief and grief by everyone, looking at Sears all shuttered up like that. To be honest, I actually broke a few more tears looking at “her” like that terminated state. Not just the end of an era for Ala Moana, but the end of a relationship. :cry:

    Reply
  • June 14, 2013 at 10:26 am
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    Got a chance to check out the new Microsoft store at Ala Moana late last night after 9pm. I intentionally went late after all the grand opening hype earlier that day, and had a GREAT time chatting with MS team members. Great staff they have working there. Very knowledgeable about the new and old MS OS, the hardware on hand and services MSS offers. I’m really impressed with the Windows phone OS. First time getting a 1-on-1 demo’, and I can say easily I’d go with that platform if I should ever decide to move away from my SSG Note II (which probably won’t happen, but must note that).

    The store is laid out and designed pretty much like the Apple store, sans the “Genius Bar”, while also considerably smaller. Microsoft splash ad video and images on tiled (think Jumbotron) large flat panel HD displays lining the entire length of both walls give the place that much more “cool factor”.

    Personally speaking, I welcome ANY new electronics store in Ala Moana, amongst the plethora of clothing and shoe stores. Another one for guys! Plus, it gives us one more place to surf the web for free on a full sized monitor. lol

    wooden xbox 360

    What would be super-duper cool, is if next door neighbor Martin & MacArthur builds a custom solid Koa housing/case for the new XBox One when it debuts at the AMC Microsoft Store in November. Talk about WOW-ZAH!

    Reply
  • September 7, 2013 at 10:19 pm
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    You mentioned shoe display racks going for $125 each. While waiting for a friend to come out out of the ladies room, I watched three men dismantle two of them with rubber mallets, then they packed them onto carts and pushed them away. Hopefully the racks will find a new home in some other shop. And yes, I bought my appliances at Sears, GE stove and Kenmore refrigerator.

    Reply
    • September 8, 2013 at 9:34 am
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      Dexter,

      Currently Ala Moana has the entire Ewa wing (you gotta’ love Ewa, right?) where Sears was located boarded off and under demolition. I still get choked up about it.

      My hope is one day Sears will make a HUGE retail comeback and become a big box BEHEMOTH that will rival Walmart. Sears is as iconic to the “American Brand” as Kellogg’s, GE, Ford and Chevrolet. And they were truly an icon of Ala Moana Center. RIP (tears roll down eyes).

      Reply
  • October 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm
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    My friends love sears  always  lunch at zippy and  bakery   My favorite ice cream  at sears  good  great foods  there we are both sadness  love  sears. Lots  more .

    My mom  searse discount.  Cancel   my mom no insurner     Fix  house renter   Problem .

    love Amba. Chun

     

    ambachun@iclouds.com

    Reply
  • November 9, 2014 at 8:20 pm
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    Roughly one year after I posted my message, Sears is gone! It is a hole in the ground that  is in process of becoming a new section of the shopping center.

    Reply

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