Connect with us

Eric Feigenbaum

Retail in Paradise

Hawaii’s ubiquitous ABC Stores have everything the traveler could possibly need




THE SHORT DRIVE from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to Waikiki takes no more than 15 minutes on a light traffic day. Yes, there is traffic in Honolulu. Turning on to Kalakaua Avenue (Hawaii’s “Fifth Avenue,”), Waikiki‘s luxury retail corridor, reveals the expected high-end stores from Tiffany and Chanel to Gucci, Moncler, Bottega Veneta, Dior, Yves St. Laurent and Hermès to Harry Winston. Additionally, The International Marketplace located in the heart of Kalakaua, anchors Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach resort area with name brands such as Brunello Cucinelli, Burberry and Balenciaga.

Perfectly positioned, in an ironic sort of way, is a hidden gem, perhaps the heart and soul of this island paradise. Duke’s Marketplace, a celebration of Hawaiian culture and the aloha spirit, located directly adjacent to the upscale International Marketplace, proudly displays its more than 89 kiosks and stalls. The landmark flea market-like lane features everything from sarongs and ukuleles to handmade jewelry, Hawaiian shirts, local artwork, as well as an assortment of island crafts. Moreover, the individually owned stalls allow long-time local Hawaiians to pursue their business within a small ecological footprint.

As balance between old and new, high-end and attainable, and local and global persists, the true retail hero in Waikiki is the ubiquitous ABC Stores. The chain was founded in 1964 by Sidney Kosasa who opened his first store in Waikiki under the name “Mister K.” Now called ABC Stores, there are upwards of 40 locations in the less than four square miles of Waikiki on Oahu, Hawaii’s most populated island. Simply stated, any short walk down Kalakaua Avenue or any intersecting or parallel streets will certainly reveal an ABC store. They even occupy space in the toniest of hotel lobbies and the most off-the-beaten-trail back streets.

While the high-end stores along the avenue are aspirational, the secret of ABC’s success is the luxury of having necessities right at travelers’ fingertips. Offering everything a traveler could possibly want, including salads, sandwiches, pharmaceuticals, wine, cosmetics, beach towels, Hawaiian shirts and souvenirs, the store is brilliantly merchandised. There is never an empty shelf or a wilted leaf of lettuce. The food offerings are always fresh, and the walls, shelves and free-standing fixtures are always well stocked, organized and clean.

Though the aesthetics are pleasant, customer service is at the highest level: Everyone is greeted with a heartfelt “aloha,” and sent away with a gracious “mahalo” (thank you). While the beaches are calling and the sunsets are spectacular, the ever-present ABC Stores are always there. Sell them what they need, and you won’t have to worry about selling a thing…

📷 Eric Feigenbaum, New York


Eric Feigenbaum is a recognized leader in the visual merchandising and store design industries with both domestic and international design experience. He served as corporate director of visual merchandising for Stern’s Department Store, a division of Federated Department Stores, from 1986 to 1995. After Stern’s, he assumed the position of director of visual merchandising for WalkerGroup/CNI, an architectural design firm in New York City. Feigenbaum was also an adjunct professor of Store Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and formerly served as the chair of the Visual Merchandising Department at LIM College (New York) from 2000 to 2015. In addition to being the New York Editor of VMSD magazine, Eric is also a founding member of PAVE (A Partnership for Planning and Visual Education). Currently, he is also president and director of creative services for his own retail design company, Embrace Design.



Embracing Whole-Brained Thinking in the Design Journey

Strategy needs creative, and creative needs strategy—yep, having both is really the only way of unifying all disciplines with a common vernacular with an eye toward building a strong creative vision that is foundational to the processes. Hear from Bevan Bloemendaal, former VP, Global Environments & Creative Services at Timberland, how to connect the dots between disciplines, claiming and creating a clear differentiation for the brand and ensuring that any asset (experience, product, ad, store, office, home, video, game) is created with intention.

Promoted Headlines





Most Popular