Category Archives: Consumer issues

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?

Retailers’ woes mean more bad news for newspapers

A story from Money Magazine put the week’s bad news from national retailers in perspective, proclaiming that “department stores are in a death spiral.”

It certainly looks that way. Sears and K-Mart are closing stores across the country, including here in Honolulu. Macy’s also shutting down stores by the dozens. And Kohl’s, the formerly high-flying retailer, saw sales slump during the Christmas season while online retailers continued to prosper.

If anything, the struggles of department stores during the 2016 holidays should serve mostly to reinforce the idea that there is no magical formula that traditional retailers can use to reverse trends that have been years in the making. Consumers have grown steadily more comfortable making the bulk of their purchases online, and they’ve come to expect low prices, deep discounting, and a huge selection of rapidly changing merchandise—all factors that undercut the classic, slow-moving department store model.

It’s no secret where shoppers are turning instead of department stores. American consumers spent a record high $91.7 billion online during the holiday season, up 11% over 2015. Amazon, the world’s largest e-retailer, dominated the season, accounting for nearly 40% of all online purchases during certain peak periods.

A story from Reuters notes that it’s not simply the shift to online shopping that has the traditional department stores on the ropes.

Apart from competition from Amazon, department stores have been hit by a shift in spending away from apparel to experiences such as dining out and traveling.

That’s right. People are not only shopping in different places, they’re shopping for different things.

Reading through the news, let’s be clear. I’m not worried about the department stores, except that this death spiral is just more bad news for newspapers and the delivery of news.

Those inserts featuring the familiar names of national retailers have traditionally been delivered as inserts in your local daily newspaper, and for decades provided a relatively robust source of income for the newspapers. Now it looks like they’ll be going the way of “Help Wanted” ads, real estate and automobile ads, which once fed the news business but now have almost disappeared from the pages of newspapers.

The retail closings are reflected in continuing layoffs of reporters, both at the national level (the Wall Street Journal and New York Times continue to shed reporters) and the local level (the Seattle Times has just announced another round of layoffs).

It’s not a pretty sight.

Park users benefit from gift by a man’s friends and family

A couple of weeks ago, we noticed that a small concrete pad had been poured in an area near the bridge that crosses from one side of Waialae Beach Park to the other. We wondered what it was for.

This week we got the answer.

There’s a brand new memorial bench that’s been set in place with a commanding view across the bay towards Koko Head.

There’s a small plaque: Donated by the Family and Friends of Larry “Waves” Cosby.

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That sent me digging for the background.

This obituary appeared in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on November 28, 2015:

LARRY COSBY Passed away on October 23, 2015. A long-time resident of Maui and Oahu, Larry lived large. He was a quick learner and pro at many things, from snow and water sports to music and career, including hotel manager, real estate broker, and cable company owner. With love and fondness, his friends and family will gather beachside near Diamond Head this Sunday to celebrate his life and memories.

And on April 8, 2016, the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation submitted a request to the City Council for approval to accept a gift of $3,499.63 “to purchase a standard park bench measuring five feet with back and arms, and to pay for the cost of ground preparation, building of forms, and pouring of concrete to form a six feet by four feet pad for the bench to be placed on and installed at Waialae Beach Park.”

Attached was a list of 22 people who contributed.

The Council passed Resolution 16-94, accepting the gift, at its meeting on May 4, 2016.

What a wonderful way to remember a friend, and to be remembered.

Make Antique Alley one of your New Year resolutions

Here’s a suggested New Year’s resolution: Stop in and check out Antique Alley. It’s an experience you shouldn’t be missing.

You’ll find Antique Alley at 1030 Queen Steet, near downtown Honolulu.

The store’s owners and operators, Paké Zane and Julie Lauster, are great people, and always eager to talk to folks who wander in.

Here’s the view just as you walk in the front door. The photo was taken earlier this week.

Something for everyone

It’s hard to describe the experience. You just have to immerse yourself in it for a while. It’s not really shopping, it’s an education!

Here’s a little video taken as I walked through the back part of the store. It give you some idea of the variety of cultural treasures you’ll find here. If you don’t know what something is used for, Paké will probably be able to enlighten you.

In any case, tell Paké that I sent you.