National park opens store in Prince Kuhio Plaza

  • The Hawaii Pacific Parks Association has opened a new national park store location in Prince Kuhio Plaza. (Courtesy photo)

Unable to operate their nonprofit park stores following the May closure of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Hawaii Pacific Parks Association has opened a new store location in Prince Kuhio Plaza.

“We have opened it just in response to this emergency,” HPPA Executive Director Margot Griffith said. “… It’s a way of reaching out into the community during this time of closure.”

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It’s also a way of getting information and “the experience of the park into the hands of the community,” she said.

The new storefront joins out-of-park sales locations at Mokupapapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo and at the visitor center of the national park’s Kahuku unit in Ka‘u.

As a National Park Service cooperating association, Griffith said the HPPA’s role “is to operate the book sales areas in the park visitor centers and return proceeds to the park,” which are used for education, research and cultural festivals, as well as youth ranger and intern programs.

Proceeds from sales benefit not only Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but also Haleakala National Park on Maui, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park, Pu‘uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, Pu‘ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, and National Park of American Samoa.

According to Griffith, the organization had been making about $13,000 a day in gross revenues between store locations at the Kilauea Visitor Center and Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park prior to its closure on May 11, which is about 67 percent of sales revenue.

The group’s “largest form of support” is in staffing the visitors center, she said, adding that HPPA staff work alongside park rangers. They also have a full-time cultural demonstrator. The rest of the funding goes toward “projects in the park that the parks request of us.”

According to Griffith, the new location, which opened July 1, is in the section of the mall near TJ Maxx and Zippy’s.

It’s “too soon to say” whether this will be a permanent store front, she said.

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“Visiting our stores and making purchases is a way for the community to help support the park,” she said.

Email Stephanie Salmons at ssalmons@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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