It’s New, It’s Expensive, It’s Ala Moana Center


Bloomingdale's Ala Moana Center

Bloomingdale’s opened its first ever store in Hawaii at Honolulu’s high rent, high end, tourist targeted Ala Moana Center on November 12. The opening of Hawaii’s first Bloomingdale’s accentuates and completes Ala Moana Center’s total transformation from what was once a locals targeted marketplace to one that is aimed at the high-end boutique shopper.

The opening of Bloomingdale’s completely and forever erased all vestiges of what was once affordable into what is all too expensive. As long time locals know, the spot in the new Ewa wing that is  now mostly complete was once the home to the Sears department store that was once the landmark anchor tenant of Ala Moana Center when it was first opened in 1959.

Sears’ former location is the new Ewa wing of the shopping center and home to even more high end stores anchored by Bloomingdale’s and the soon to be re-located Nordstrom. Thursday’s grand opening of the new wing brought out more curiosity seekers rather than actual shoppers. People waited in long lines for free samples or whatever.

The grand opening of the new wing was just an excuse to go to Bloomingdale’s, take some first day photos before the “associates” all get settled in and figure out that non-paying customers should not be able to take photos or even gawk at the high priced merchandise.

Not all of the stores opened on November 12. Nordstrom is still at its present location in the center and will move to the Ewa wing in March. Foodland will be returning with a high end grocery store concept called Foodland Farms, one of which is now operating in Aina Haina. Shirokiya is building a new Japanese food court on the lower level of the Ewa wing, as well as Whole Foods Market, and several others. All will be targeting the well financed tourist and high-end local shopper.

While the high-end shopping experience does not get budget shoppers excited, the new businesses at the center do provide an ongoing base for employment in the retail and restaurant industries. The current construction in the center as well as nearby has meant additional employment for skilled trade workers. All of this is supposedly good for the economy as it expands the tax base and generates more revenue for the government.

The opening of even more high end stores, eateries and boutiques in Ala Moana Center evokes sad memories of older local people who remember the businesses that were once there…. Sears, JC Penney, Patti’s Chinese Kitchen, Woolworth’s, Liberty House and more. Those memories will be the subject of another post.

Bloomingdale's Ala Moana Center

Bloomingdale's Ala Moana Center

Bloomingdale's Ala Moana Center



Melvin Ah Ching is a photographer, consultant, blogger, desktop publisher, and computer enthusiast living and working in Hawaii. The Hawaii Files have been online since 2006.