Fire in Hilo!
Some said our luck had finally run out. Others thought a crime had been committed. All we knew was our brand new store was burning!
Above, gorgeous Sunday afternoon in Hilo, potentially devastating fire
We found out from our friends at Big Island Zipline Adventures that they had to find a new location to check in their zip line guests. We thought that working with Big Island Zipline Adventures and combining the zip check in with our very first retail store in a more convenient downtown location would work great. We were thrilled to find the space available located in the historic Moses Building right on bayfront, and we worked for several weeks to bring KapohoKine to downtown Hilo. It took some paint and creativity to make the space work, but we were really excited by what we had created. We were price tagging merchandise and putting the very final touches on the store on a gorgeous Sunday morning, October 31, 2010, in preparation for opening the following day when disaster struck.
New store before the fire (left), and after (right)
"I noticed thick black smoke pouring in through the cracks in the ceiling and I got myself and Caty out and had Caty call 911", reports manager, Nick Tarring. Luckily fire personnel happened to be driving down bayfront and noticed the smoke, too.
Fire personnel worked brilliantly to bring the fire under control quickly with minimal damage to the connected and surrounding buildings. They also took great care to cover what they could inside our store to minimize damage from water, but everything in the store that wasn't soaked with water abolutely reeked of acrid smoke.
There was initial concern that the fire may have been deliberate due to a previous tenant. Arson detecting dogs were brought in and found accelerant only in the small woodshop directly behind our store, so, after a thorough investigation, arson was ruled out, as was an electrical fire as cause, which came as a relief. The fire department investigation found the fire started in the woodshop, and the multiple accelerants and sawdust contributed to a fierce blaze.
The side wall (left) and rear wall (middle and right) of the store after the fire
We found a neat location right around the corner in the historic Volcano Block Bulding. Located at 27 Waianuenue Avenue in Hilo, the building dates back to 1914. Not as big as our space in the Moses Building and not on bayfront, but it was available and a beautiful space. Our amazing crew of employees worked tirelessly to try to clean up whatever was salvageable, and then moved everything out of the Moses Building, including the owner's 1974 Series III Land Rover!
Our new store is up and running, although it's been slow going as we've had to capitalize the opening of two retail stores in just a couple of months. We've got a climbing wall, we sell tours, meet the zip line guests from Honolii Mountain Outpost and Zipline Through Paradise, and sell Patagonia adventure apparel at our new location. We'll have more details and pictures of the new store soon.
So, was it bad luck? Well, a devastating fire the day before opening is not the best of luck, that's for sure. But what the fire did was solidify for us how incredibly giving and generous our team and the community can be. From local individuals and businesses sending cards, flowers and gifts to national companies like Lands' End Business Outfitters sending us some of their awesome fleece throw blankets logoed with "From Your Friends at Lands' End". It's been an enlightening and challenging experience for all of us. But, as they say, as one door closes another door opens.
Catch us next time as we show you around our new store and look to the future!
The KapohoKine Team
Below are before and after the fire pictures of our old Moses Building store: