Wailuku Town staple Maui Thing will close its retail location after 10 years on Market Street. The store will celebrate its last day in business March 1, closing its doors after the Wailuku First Friday event featuring Uncle Willie K performing.
Maui Thing began selling Maui-inspired merchandise in a 10- by 10-foot tent at the inaugural First Friday event in Wailuku. The brand had an online presence but following the First Friday event, co-owner Saedene Ota couldn’t resist opening a brick-and-mortar store in her hometown. “It was a dream to have a little local shop in Wailuku and we did it,” Ota said. The store opened on July 4, 2008, during the recession. Ota said with a lot of heart, help of friends and family, and designs inspired by “good things on Maui,” the brand emerged as a he‘e whose body is the shape of the island.
“We wanted our designs to be different, inspired by good,” Ota said. The slogan, “Stuck on Good” has rung true throughout the business, communicated through the company’s apparel and through their Second Saturday Art classes they have offered free to keiki since the store opened.
Maui Thing’s online store, Mauithing.com, will continue to sell some the company’s favorite designs including the Wailuku Bridge tee for the guys and the opihi tank for women. The Maui Boy and Maui Girl onesies will still be a constant as well as a few other locally made gift items.
“We felt that it was the perfect time to take a break, change it up, and innovate a bit,” said co-owner Ashley Takitani Leahey. “It’s been such an epic decade here in our favorite little town and we are so thankful for every day of it.”
In addition to operating as a locally-owned retail store, Maui Thing has left its mark on Wailuku, from hosting free yoga classes to coordinating the Wailuku First Friday event for numerous years. The crew has provided more than 250 hours of free arts and crafts classes for keiki, volunteered a handful of years in steering the Wailuku Community Association, and brought The Green to Market Street for their anniversary fashion show in 2013, packing the town with more than 5,000 people.
“We have been a gathering place, a community hub, and a place to come talk story,” said store manager Lesley Cummings “Our brand will live on through the community events we’re a part of and a few pop-ups we have in the works. Nonetheless, I’ll miss the keiki stopping by to say hi after school, family members that come in for lunch, and the new friends we make daily when they walk in the door… It’s not goodbye Wailuku Town, it’s aloha – a hui hou!”
Photo by Sean M Hower