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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, June 6, 2010

Broken businesses

by Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

TOP to BOTTOM: Liberty House was bought out by Macy's.

Advertiser library photos

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Shirokiya once had three Hawai‘i stores, but the flagship store at Ala Moana Center is the only one that remains.

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As a business writer with The Honolulu Advertiser for a decade, I've had too many unpleasant occasions covering the shutdown of venerable companies.

Aloha Airlines, Amfac, C. Brewer & Co., City Bank, Daiei, Liberty House, Maui Pineapple Co., McInerny, MidPac Lumber, Molokai Ranch, Schuman Carriage, Theo H. Davies & Co. and Victoria Ward Ltd.

The long, sad list goes on.

Typically, the end for companies was due to financial failure or acquisition by a stronger competitor. Sometimes it was the lack of a family successor.

Today, The Advertiser joins the list, but with an unlikely twist in that it was taken over by a smaller rival. The Advertiser's parent, Gannett Co., helped the owner of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin buy Hawai'i's dominant newspaper by providing a $40 million loan.

I will miss the many people I've worked with at a great paper. Most haven't been retained for the merged operation of the two papers that begins tomorrow, and the loss is painful.

I have been fortunate to land a job at the new Honolulu Star-Advertiser, and I am grateful that I will be able to continue writing about business in this beautiful state where I was born.

Reporting on events closely hinged to the local economy and its residents has always been fascinating — a continuous education for me and a benefit for readers wanting to know what's being planned, bought, sold, merged, opened, expanded, downsized or closed.

Topics among the roughly 2,700 stories I've written for the Advertiser include outsized imprints made by real estate moguls Donald Trump and Genshiro Kawamoto, efforts that saved companies such as Crazy Shirts and Shirokiya, wild rides by the housing and stock markets that shook Hawai'i's economy, and unrealized fanciful plans that included a world-class aquarium and underwater casino.

Business closures represented a fair share of these stories, and I lament the loss of many providers of goods, services and jobs that are no longer around, including The Advertiser.