Category Archives: Business

House for sale in Kaaawa

Not just any house. It’s our former home.

[text]We were out in Kaaawa again over the weekend, and were surprised to find that our former house is for sale again, just 18-months after we sold it.

In the interim, it’s had major renovations, with remodeled kitchen & bathrooms, new interior doors, new lights, ceiling fans, new flooring and paint throughout, and upgraded electrical and plumbing.

We heard through the neighborhood gossip network that the family that bought it from us underestimated the logistics involved in living in such a beautiful spot. With both parents working and two children now dealing with school and other activities, the commute to town–about 26 miles–quickly got to be too much.

I can certainly appreciate that. We were lucky to almost always have been able to arrange our lives to avoid peak traffic hours, and with just one car, the commute offered a daily opportunity for long, open-ended conversations and lots of NPR listening. But we didn’t have the challenges that kids introduce to the equation.

In any case, it’s a great house in a primo location in Kaaawa.

It’s listed on Zillow, with additional photographs available here.

Hints about the future of rural America?

I thought these observations gleaned from recent news stories, were worth sharing. They arrived in emails from someone who comments as “Compare Decide”.

The good news is that JC Penney has made its first profit since 2010.

The bad news is that they have decided to close up to 140 stores.

The worse news is that this will probably trigger the closing of many struggling shopping malls.

Most of these articles on this subject frame it in terms of the rise of online shopping, or the executive mistakes of the past.

But it has been little noted that these store closings are in rural areas.

The story of the century is the decline, obsolescence and doom of small towns and outside suburbs, and so few seem to see this pattern.

But back in September of 2016, an optimistic JC Penney was planning on replacing Sears and Macy’s.

Some of J.C. Penney’s most profitable locations turned out to be small stores in rural areas where the retailer pays almost no rent; two California stores opening this year will be completely funded by the landlord.

A less happy story from yesterday.

Penney on Friday eked out its first annual profit since 2010, but executives said they were closing weaker stores so they could focus their investments on revamping those in stronger markets. Penney said it would identify the locations that are set to close next month, though executives said many were smaller stores in rural locations.

Geography is critical.

Optimism is still evident in some parts of the retail industry.

But another mall giant, Gap Inc., posted higher comparable quarterly sales for the first time in two years. “If you read the headlines today, you’ll see the words dead, dying, sick. We are none of those,” CEO Art Peck told investors late Thursday. “We are healthy and strong and have a plan and clear direction.”

Um, that’s what JC Penney was saying last year….

Potential Verizon merger could impact islands

We’ve barely had time to get used to the idea that Oceanic Cable has been swallowed up by cable giant Charter Communications, which bought Oceanic’s parent company, Time Warner Cable.

And today comes news that Verizon is now seriously considering a deal to take over and merge with Charter.

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Verizon is the nation’s biggest wireless broadband provider, but it is relatively small in wired broadband with the Fios coverage area passing just 14 million households. Charter’s wired broadband service passes 49 million homes and is growing even as the pay-TV market is shrinking. This would give Verizon some of the growth it desperately needs to offset declines in the wireless business.

Of course, Oceanic is way down the food chain in this deal, but it still will reverberate right down to cable and broadband subscribers if it ever comes to pass.

And it shows how things go round and round. Today Hawaiian Tel is engaged in intense competition with Oceanic as the telephone provider focuses on extended its fiber optics network and challenging Oceanic for broadband and television services.

If Verizon does take over Charter and Oceanic, it will inherit the position as dominant cable company in Hawaii, and chief rival to Hawaiian Tel.

It’s been a long and winding corporate history.

My grandfather worked at one time for Mutual Telephone, which had started business in the days of the Hawaiian Kingdom. Mutual changed its name to Hawaiian Telephone Company in the 1950s. A decade later, in 1967, the company was bought out by GTE and became GTE Hawaiian Tel. Three decades later, GTE merged with Bell Atlantic to form Verizon, and Hawaiian Tel became a Verizon company. In 2004, Verizon sold off the Hawaii firm to The Carlyle Group, an investment company. After a series of financial woes, Hawaiian Tel filed for bankruptcy, and controlling interest passed to another investment firm, Cerberus Capital Management. As the company emerged from bankruptcy, it went public. Hawaiian Tel now operates as the primary subsidiary of Hawaiian Telcom Holdco, Inc.

Such are the ways of capital, I guess.

Another public restroom complaint

A letter to the editor in yesterday’s Honolulu Star-Advertise is one of those which could be written about far too many public facilities in town.

I am writing to express my frustration with the inadequate restroom facilities at the Kapiolani Community College’s farmers market on Saturdays.

I walked over to the public restroom last Saturday and to my surprise, there was a lineup of about 25 men. The lineup for the women’s restroom was even longer. When I made it into the facility after a half-hour wait, I saw that there was only one toilet stall. The single urinal was out of order. No wonder the lineup was so long.

This is just not acceptable.”

You can, I think, read the whole letter here.

These are issues in both city and state facilities. Airports. Parks. Public buildings.

Agencies are understaffed. Facilities are “overused” and, if I understand what that means, not properly designed for their expected volume of use.

These are persistent management issues. Why are we so uniquely poor at solving them?