Hungry Ear’s Last Day at University & King

Hawaii’s oldest record shop is temporarily closing its doors as it looks for a new home in Honolulu.

Hungry Ear Records first opened in Kailua in 1980 and is the organizer of the annual Hawaii Record Fair. It is now one of many mom-and-pop businesses in Honolulu that have recently met with the changing face of a city where demolition of old buildings and construction of mixed-use development and condominiums are on the rise. You can’t stop progress, which in this case means that Hungry Ear and all the other tenants of University Square — a quaint shopping plaza just a few blocks from where I currently live, down the road from the University of Hawaii — must evacuate by the end of October 2016. Come November 1st, demolish will begin to make way for new apartments aimed at college students.

As you may know, Monday October 24 will be Hungry Ear’s last day open for business at University Square. We’ve been in this spot for a little over two years and we’ve really been through a lot. We’ve held three Hawaii Record Fairs, been the subject of an episode of a Brazilian series on US record stores (which unfortunately we don’t have the rights show you), had one of our co-owners decide to leave the store, been visited by Jack Johnson, Haruki Murakami, Atmosphere and Randall Park, and even managed to sell a few records. …

Our delay in announcing our plans to move to a new location was based on the knowledge that until we had all the answers, all we’d get is a lot of questions. Unfortunately, we have not yet secured a new retail home. We’d thought we’d found a nice space in Kapahulu, but somehow the owners have let negotiations dwindle away. When we finally gave up on Kapahulu, we began looking at Kaimuki and elsewhere. We are now in talks for a space in the heart of Kakaako. Everything looks really good so far, but nothing is sure until the papers are signed. But rest assured, you, our faithful customers, will be the first ones that we report to, but only when there is something real to report. …

We won’t be able to open back up at the beginning of November; it’s just not how buildouts work. Plans need to be drawn, and permits need to be applied for. We are intent on making the wait as short as possible, but there are a lot of factors that are just out of our hands.

While Hungry Ear is temporarily shuttered, we plan on staying in touch. Any confirmed news we get, we’ll pass on to you. We have plans during our hiatus for buying trips, pop-up stores and so much more. We’ll see what we can get done.” — Official statement from Hungry Ear (link)

We stopped by on their final day to bid good luck to Ward, Mary, Jim, and Mele as they begin a new chapter for Hungry Ear. We ran into some friends while digging, including Hideki Yamamoto, who came across a few finds to spin at Soul Time In Hawaii. Below are some photos from Hungry Ear’s last day at their University location.

Here’s to the next step in Hungry Ear’s journey as one of Hawaii’s only record stores!

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Busy digging.

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Mele.

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Hideki Yamamoto.

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Mary and Ward.

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5pm. One hour left until closing.

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A few holes that won’t need filling.

Hungry Ear at University and King in Moiliili

Hungry Ear’s University Square location in the morning, a few weeks before closing. Photo by Leimomi Bong.

Visit hungryear.com for updates.

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