KAILUA—Since October 2009, when news broke that retailing company Target was eyeing up the Don Quijote site at 345 Hahani Street, little concrete information as to the corporation’s specific plans has been made available. Recently, though, it surfaced that the process of turning over the lease is in progress, and Don Quijote employees expect to have lost their jobs by August.
In response to the swift turnover progress, Kailua resident Holly D’Agostino has created a petition to be sent to Hawaii legislators against bringing the corporate giant to town.
“A few months ago, I read something in the paper about Target moving into the Don Quijote site,” said D’Agostino. “It made it sound like it would happen in 2022, but all of sudden two weeks ago they put in the paper again that they are signing the lease and transferring it. Don Quijote put it up and Target apparently was interested in it. Our concern was they hadn’t asked anyone in Kailua. They met with the Kailua community board only after they had made those plans. It was like they snuck in and didn’t see what the people wanted.”
According to D’Agostino, though, the community is less than receptive to the idea of another large mainland corporation moving into their beach-side town.
The petition is one of the first indications of the Kailua community organizing against the company transfer. Still, D’Agostino said, the public remains largely uninformed.
“A lot of people don’t think that it’ll happen,” she explained. “They’ve said no one will ever let Target come to Kailua. They’re really uninformed. But within 30 days they could begin starting. They’re already starting their traffic studies.”
D’Agostino is concerned the community has been offered no say in the future of its commercial landscape.
“I don’t hate Target, I just don’t think it’s right for Kailua,” said D’Agostino, who criticized Target for not having a local consciousness or authenticity. “The reason I don’t think Target works there is there’s so many small businesses and all of those cute little places. I’ve been in the Target in Salt Lake and they’re selling sweaters and scarves. You can put Aloha postcards in the front door but that doesn’t mean you’re catering to what Hawaii needs.”
D’Agostino described how one store catering to numerous markets at cost-slashed prices is poisonous for the economic diversity that local communities need to thrive.
“From an economic point of view, I don’t think it’s a good idea either,” she said. “With big box stores, the money goes elsewhere. With a local business, the money stays in the community. [Target] has their produce retailers on the mainland, whereas another store might get their produce from Waimanalo. I think there are a lot of better business options than a Target. If we put a Target there, it’s going to be just a Target.”
She said it is easy to underestimate the impact of allowing just one big-box corporation into a small community.
‘I think the problems it’s going to bring are going to be astronomical,” D’Agostino said. “It’s going to look really bad. It’s going to make the town really crowded. You already can’t get around there, the traffic is just ridiculous.”
The Kailua community has, in the past, successfully rallied against big box stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Costco. Kaneohe Ranch is the landowner for the current Don Quijote site. However, they may not be able to help much in this case, D’Agostino said.
D’Agostino met with a Kaneohe Ranch representative who said that due to the type of lease Don Quijote has, they do not have full authority to determine what happens with the lease.
“He said he’s not in control of the economy of Kailua. He has no control over what Don Quijote does, and he was explaining some of the alternatives,” D’Agostino said. “Basically, because of the type of lease Don Quijote has, they could easily just shut down, put a chain link around the property and leave it to sit there for the next 15 years. From that perspective, Kaneohe Ranch is seeing Target as a better option than for that happen.”
Kailua does, however, already support its own handful of big company chains.
“There’s a Safeway, they’re building a Whole Foods, there’s [California Pizza Kitchen],” D’Agostino said. “It’s definitely going in that direction and that’s something I don’t think is great for the town.”
Her recommendations are for community members to organize and put pressure on legislators to enact local-friendly laws, enabling small business to thrive outside of the weight of giant corporations.
“I was looking at San Francisco ordinances, where they don’t have many chains,” D’Agostino said. “A long-term goal ... would be to try to change the ordinances in Kailua to keep everything local. That works well for San Francisco. I think it would be a good idea for people in Kailua to look into. We have to be sustainable.”
The petition can be viewed or signed at http://www.change.org/actions/view/stop_target_from_opening_store_in_kailua_hawaii.
I am writing to you today regarding the proposed plans and the possibility of Target opening a store in Kailua, O’ahu. I am a deeply concerned resident of Kailua and I have spoken with dozens of people and there is a VERY strong opposition to Target opening in Kailua. We would like to send you our thoughts and concerns about this matter.
I understand that from an economic standpoint, this may seem like an OK idea at the moment, but over time, “Big Box” stores SEVERELY hinder the surrounding economy and small businesses. Studies have shown that for every $1 million spent in locally owned businesses, approximately 32% ($320,000) stays in the local economy, however, for every $1 million spent at Big Box stores, only 19% ($190,000) stays in the local economy.
I respectfully urge you to take a look at this situation and perhaps help me create more sustainable ideas for Kailua businesses rather than opening a big Mainland chain. The residents of Kailua are proud of the small town beach lifestyles we have, and a Target store strongly goes against what the people want, which is to keep their businesses and their town local.
As a constituent of this state, I feel it is my responsibility to share my thoughts with you and ask for your help. We need to put pressure on Target to select a different site for their store. Kailua is not the place. Thank you for your time and your continued excellence while representing the people of Hawaii.
Best regards and mahalo.