Tuesday | April 28, 2015
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Pier 1 Imports opens today in Kona

Pier 1 Imports’ first Big Island store offers an eclectic mix of furniture, wares and goods that possess a decidedly magical, far-off land feel.

The new 8,448-square-foot store in the Kona Coast Shopping Center opens at 10 a.m. today. It promises to take customers on “a treasure hunt” through the rustic, yet modern open bazaar-meets-antique shop, filled with bold hues, decadent textures, thought-provoking patterns, hand-blown glass, cracked ceramics, wrought-iron accents, whimsical conversation pieces and vintage spirit. It hopes to prove “it’s the dream shopping destination for any occasion or holiday,” said Hawaii regional manager Jeffrey Trinh.

“We’re so excited about opening our first Big Island location,” Trinh said. “Every time I meet people in the community and tell them I’m from Pier 1, there’s this gasp, followed by sheer excitement and glee. It makes me feel like a rock star.”

Opening a Kailua-Kona store “just made sense” because “the timing was right, the perfect location and great support from the Hawaii market,” said spokeswoman Jennifer Engstrand, adding, “It was a natural progression for expansion.”

Trinh said this is the fifth Pier 1 location in the state, including three stores on Oahu and one on Maui. Pier 1 opened its first Hawaii store at Ward Centers in Honolulu in 1998. It originally started as a single store in San Mateo, Calif., in 1962, when customers were post-World War II baby boomers looking for beanbag chairs, love beads and incense.

Its merchandise has changed over the years from chocolate covered ants, clothing lines and even life-size Spanish suits of armor to home accessories, upholstered furniture, hand-carved armoires and eclectic wall decor. The company’s buyers comb flea markets, antique stores and bazaars worldwide, looking for the unique and regularly importing goods from more than 50 countries. Thanks to their keen instincts, Pier 1 stores like the one in Kailua-Kona offers items such as a mango wood trunk with a secret storage box and hidden utility drawer from India; French country furnishings; and a recycled glass head sculpture from Spain. The most expensive item offered is a $1,100 sofa, Trinh said.

Best-sellers in Hawaii are often in the outdoor department. There’s a wide selection of products aimed at helping customers make their lanai and backyard become a functional, yet stylish extension of their home. Another staple is the iconic papasan, a bowl-shaped seat complete with a cocoon-like cushion that the company has sold since its inception, Engstrand said.

This is the only Hawaii store featuring Pier 1’s new store concept, which includes natural-colored floor tiles, rustic ceiling elements, enhanced store lighting and lit shelving units lining the walls — all helping customers visualize the use of the products within their home, Trinh said.

“Open stock” merchandising is used and designed to give customers the opportunity to see, feel and interact with products. Customers are encouraged to embrace a mix-and-match methodology, especially with the dinnerware, textiles and pillows, as well as draw inspiration from the idea-generating vignettes, said store manager Jenna Criswell.

Usually weekly, the store gets new shipments of items. However, a furniture resource book is available for customers to special order items to be delivered in 30 days at the store for pick up at no additional charge. Also a partnership with Kona Trans is making home delivery islandwide possible,” Trinh said.

Another unique feature is the air conditioners and lights are controlled by motion sensors in an attempt to save money and contribute toward Hawaii’s green efforts, he said.

Construction was completed in early June by Tinguely Development, and hiring began roughly two months ago. On average, the store will employ 40 associates and five management team members. Associate hours fluctuate based on the store’s needs and the season. Trinh said the store is “always looking for great talent and personalities” for its team. Those interested can fill out an application during business hours.

In celebration of the new store, a traditional Hawaiian blessing ceremony, featuring the untying of a maile lei, will be conducted by Calvary Community Church Kahu Kealoha Kaopua Coleman, prior to today’s opening. The first 300 shoppers will receive a free signature reusable bag and a Pier 1 back scratcher. Grand opening festivities will take place Saturday and Sunday, when attendees will have the opportunity to receive free product giveaways and gift cards.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Call 329-2581 or visit pier1.com.