‘No one is safe from this pandemic’, Hawaii businesses continue to close amid coronavirus pandemic


HONOLULU (KHON2) – A year after the start of the pandemic, Hawaii continues to see more and more long-standing businesses shutting down for good.

Love’s Bakery will close its doors for good on Wednesday March 31. The bakery was able to withstand the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Pearl Harbor and 9/11, but COVID-19 turned out to be too much for the 170-year-old business.

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“They’ve been a part of our community for so long and they’re so iconic and when they closed I mean it was really heartbreaking,” said Tina Yamaki, President of Retail Merchants of Hawaii. “It shows that no one is immune from this pandemic, it can strike anyone.”

And on Sunday, many people lined up outside Kaneohe Bakery for its last day after nearly 70 years in business.

Likelike Drive Inn, Dillingham Saimin, The Honolulu Club, and Gecko Books and Comics had also been around for decades until they closed in 2020.

“No one is safe from this pandemic,” Yamaki said.

She says her retailers big and small are taking a hit.

“We have to understand; the only time they got help from the government was through PPP loans and a lot of those loans have yet to be converted into grants, ”Yamaki explained.

She said many businesses were reluctant to take another loan and take on more debt.

“Yes, we want to keep our jobs and we can use 60% of the PPP loans for employee salaries, but we still have to pay the rent, we still have to pay for electricity and we still have to pay our distributors,” Yamaki continued.

Even with relaxed restrictions and 100% occupancy allowed, social distancing remains in place, and even with returning visitors, businesses said it was still difficult to stay open.

“We don’t have the droves of visitors and even the visitors arriving now, most of them are budget conscious because Hawaii is so cheap now,” she explained.

As the number of cases rises again, Yamaki says many business owners are now concerned that more restrictions will be put in place.

“It’s a scary situation because we can’t afford another third stop. More and more businesses will never reopen again, ”she said.

The Hawaii Chamber of Commerce recently surveyed 300 companies who believe the recovery path will continue through April 2022. Nine in 10 said they expect to be in the next six months to a year and hopefully longer.

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