Friday, May 16, 2008

Save the Kuau Mart

The Kuau Mart is a little shop on the Hana Highway that is an institution for Maui's north shore surfing/windsurfing community.

Its location makes it perfect for a quick lunch break between Hookipa sessions. Lasagna, meat balls, fried fish and the legendary teriyaki chicken... everything at the Kuau Mart costs $4.17... and the leftovers are free when they close at 7pm!
Everybody loves the family that has operated it for years. The legendary Liona (one of the funniest ladies I have ever met) and her daughters have always made all the north shore residents feel at home when walking in the shop.
Quite easy to end up in line behind legends like Laird Hamilton or Robby Naish in there.

Unfortunately, the galloping Lahaina-ization process of Paia is about to hit it too.
The owner of the building, in fact, just asked for a rent increase of $5,000.
Here's the letter (click on it to read it).

Here's a few info on the number of tourists that every year visit Maui (2.5 million in 2006... and it's not going down!) that will help understand why the rents of shops in Paia are skyrocketing.
Most of the tourists that come to Maui will include a trip to Hana in their stay and Paia is on the way. It actually is the last town before getting into 52 miles of narrow and winding (and beautiful) road. Most of the tourists that go to Hana, hence decide to stop in Paia and... what do most tourists do in vacation? But of course, they shop!
Did you read that list of shops in the letter? None of them is, im my opinion, aimed to serve the local community (even though I confess I do splurge on a cup of gelato once in a while). They are all making business with the roaming tourists.

Can you blame them?
Can you blame the Kuau Mart building's owner for wanting to make more money, knowing that he can (a fashion shop will make enough money to afford that rent)?
But who is going to take care of the needs of the local community?

Exactly the same thing happened a few years ago with the Paia General Store, another piece of history that had to leave room to a new complex of tourist shops. Thank god Mana food is still there, otherwise Paia residents would have to go to Kahului for grocery shopping!

I don't know what to say. We live in a world that is ruled by money and there's not much we can do to change this on a global scale.
If you don't like this particular case though, you can stop by the shop and sign the petition below... will it help? I don't think so... but at least you will express your solidarity to the Nomura family!


On a more positive note, the forecasted epic surfing conditions did happen and I am incredibly surfed out. My cut is fully healed, but two weeks out of the water didn't help keeping the muscles' tone up. Looks like even my skin got softer, since I have rashes on every single point of contact between body and board... time for a standup session, I guess. Been taking a bunch of little videos, stay tuned for that.

In the meantime here's a few photos I took from the lookout this morning, before heading towards my session.

Beautiful and glassy and with the usual drop ins.

Lastly, because of the very light (or complete lack of) wind, the Freak meeting scheduled for tomorrow at upper Kanaha has been postponed to Saturday June 7th.


Anonymous said...

have they figured out how to charge for the wind, waves or water yet?

I find the tactics contained within the letter with regards to arbitration and if invoked, the threat of retro active rent disgusting. If you look for a fair/just solution I will try and crush you. Very nice. Aloha

Anonymous said...

Hey Giampaolo,

I am definitely in support of efforts to save the Kuau Mart! It is an "institution" and I have too many friends who live within walking distance of it. I would hate for them to burn more gas by having to drive into Paia or Kahului for groceries! I do think the owners of Mana Foods are in good shape though....

On another note, I was also saddened by the closure of the General Store, and of course the Paia drive in for Mahi sliders (has it been 5 years now?). Bobbie was always fun to talk to there, I would stop in every chance I had. The closure of the General Store as far as I knew was precipitated by the owners (Bobbie and hubby) wanting to develop the property themselves, so in effect, they pushed themselves out. Correct me if I am wrong about this.

See you in a few months...

All the best,


Anonymous said...

Let's enjoy the North Shore while we still can. Soon, if pro-development agendas prevail, everything local will be squeezed out. You'll need to be a multi-millionaire to live here, and the only places to rent will be TVRs. You can't blame them. They have every right to do that.

Anonymous said...

Well, can't they just rise the prices of lasagnas and meetballs a little? Unfortunately this thing happens everywhere and it is called "inflation"...

Sharon said...

This David and Goliath situation is appalling, not only for the Nomura’s but for all the other Mom & Pop stores on Maui that have already fallen to this kind of greed. I’m sick of it-thanks for helping to expose this madness.

Global homogenization sucks. I've contacted the Maui News....if they go down, at least let it be with a standing ovation from the whole community.

Anonymous said...

I know inflation is inevitable, but a 150% mark up on any price is disgusting, especially in this circumstance, with that letter to boot! Imagine, to pay for it, they'll have to put their prices up 150% So a 1/2 gallon of milk is now gonna cost us $11 bucks and a bag of chips about $9! Forget a second job, we'll all need a 3rd!

This is about a lovely family providing a great service for northshore locals for years, I'll stand on a picket line before they get evicted.

And the rich get richer ......

Anonymous said...

I agree with first poster Ben that the threat contained in the letter is scuzzy. The following idea to raise the prices a little seems unrealistic when it appears the landlord is seeking a huge increase. When there are no local families running business here anymore it will be sad and those that have sold/bought out the old Hawaii a dollar at a time will get what they deserve. Unfortunately most of us will be long gone to some place affordable by then. MB (20 year resident)

Anonymous said...

not the mart , styed in kuau once went there many times, our last trip just this past april stayed in sprecks and still made it to the mart for the awesome burrito ( eggs, bacon, rice , big, cheap homemade WOW!!)and bagelmelt. the writers of the letter imply that they are being fair BUT thay say if they have to go to arbitration they will hammer them...passive aggresive i'd say..
jeff e of the gwn

Anonymous said...

Ben nailed it. But too bad for the landlords Kuau isn't Paia. They can and will get there big $$ rent but it will be a revolving door of tenants w/ big ideas and not enough revenue to stay in business. Unless of course they open a gas station

fritte said...

The new owner of Kuau Mart also ownes the building across the street from Youth of Mission. He did the same thing to them, raised the rent from $ 2000 to $ 10000. They had to move out and now the place is mostly empty.... The owner used to be a pro windsurfer and lives in paia. You would think he saw the importance of keeping Kuau Mart the way it is.

GreenMauiGuide said...
is in support of saving the Kuau Mart and asks that you guys stop by our website powered by Maui College students to provide information for the community. SAVE Kuau Mart!

Anonymous said...

Hey... Let’s all get REAL and stick to the FACTS rather than act on emotions and get carried away in plums of (cane) smoke!!! READ THE LETTER!!! The Numura Family apparently entered into a written lease with terms and conditions that THEY agreed to. It appears from reading the letter that should the landlord and tenant fail to renegotiate the increase of rent, the matter would go to arbitration (Section 3.03 of the lease)! Has anyone noticed that it has become increasingly more expensive to live in Maui? Public record shows the landlord purchased the property and an adjacent one approx. 8 months ago for $2,250,000, I wonder how much the mortgage is? Should the landlord risk foreclosure because the Nomura family can’t figure out how to adjust their business model to increase revenue to cover the increased cost of being a commercial tenant? I think not... I too miss the good old days when you could buy a residential home in Paia for less than $200K and a six pack of cold Corona was $3.99. But guess what... That was then, and this is now! So wake up and deal with reality people! Stop whining and take charge of your life! Be proactive and make a difference so you too can survive the tough economic times facing ALL OF US today. Only our elected leaders (Mayor Tavares, President Bush, Maui County Council among others) can be blamed for the increased difficulties in making a living on this beautiful Island. ALOHA!

Anonymous said...

This is just simply horrible. Greed is not good, and trying to strip the way of life out of Hawai'i which has made it the wonderful place it is and replace it with generic, high-rent, stores, hotels, and such is patently stupid and wrong. It's happening all across the islands and really saddens me. These developers need to learn that old saying: "hahai no ka ua i ka ulula'au."