Famous for its Hawaiian shirts and other tourist-targeted clothing, jewelry and souvenirs, Hilo Hattie has once again filed for bankruptcy.
The Hawaii retailer last filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008, emerging in 2009. But while the company V.P. Mark Storfer says profit margins have improved, it has not been rapid enough to achieve important financial milestones.
This current bankruptcy, filed 3 days ago, estimates assets between $1 and $10 million with liabilities between $10 and $50 million. Hilo Hattie’s mounting debt is no match for its cash reserves, and the company claims that the sluggish Oahu retail market is also posing a challenge.
Hilo Hattie also acknowledges a struggle to find its niche in today’s market. Hawaiian shirts and other clothing items are apparently not the fashion item they once were, despite being offered in men’s sizes up to 7XL and women’s up to 5X – which would fit a 62 - 53.5 - 65 figure (that’s inches.)
Although Hawaii’s visitor arrival numbers have been breaking records lately, observers say tourists are spending more on airfare and hotel rooms, less on shopping and dining.
So far this year, Hilo Hattie closed 2 stores on the Big Island of Hawaii as well as a location on Maui. It is currently looking to lease its 40,000 sq. ft. Oahu.
Despite the 2nd bankruptcy, Hilo Hattie – named after a singer, hula dancer, actress and comedienne of Native Hawaiian ancestry - will continue its operations without interruption. It will also continue to provide free entertainment, craft activities and tastings of products for sale at its stores.