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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 19, 2010

Now there's more to Hilo Hattie

Advertiser Staff

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hilo Hattie will offer free hula lessons at its flagship store on Nimitz Highway, with kumu hula Kale Pawai teaching the classes. It's part of a strategy to enhance operations since it emerged from bankruptcy under new ownership.

Photo from Hilo Hattie

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Recently reorganized kama'āina retailer Hilo Hattie is expanding the offerings at its flagship Nimitz Highway store beyond shopping into hula lessons and catered meeting events.

The company, which emerged from bankruptcy in October under new ownership, has established a 500-square-foot studio in which kumu hula Kale Pawai will host free beginner and advanced classes on weekdays. The studio has a large viewing window for shoppers, and instruction is available in Japanese.

Hilo Hattie also has outfitted the store with two meeting rooms accommodating up to 75 guests each or 200 combined. Breakfast, lunch and dinner catering is being offered, and the rooms are equipped with audio/visual/Internet equipment.

The store additions, which also include presentation of a 5-minute Edgy Lee-produced video "The History of Hawaiian Wear," are part of a strategy to enhance operations under Donald B.S. Kang, the owner of garment manufacturer Royal Hawaiian Creations who went from supplying Hilo Hattie to running the company with seven Hawai'i stores.

Hilo Hattie's emergence from bankruptcy allowed it to wipe out roughly $14 million of debt to keep its Hawai'i stores and 170 employees in business while preserving numerous vendor relationships.

CORRECTION: ?There is a fee for hula lessons at Hilo Hattie’s Nimitz Highway store. The meeting rooms are available free of charge. Incorrect information was in a previous version of this story.