The name Cinnamon Girl isn't known on the mainland, but it's one of the Hawaiian islands' most successful apparel chains. In nine years, it has opened 12 stores on the big island of Hawaii and on Maui and Oahu. A private company, its sales figures aren't reported.
Now, Cinnamon Girl wants to bring its colorful clothes and accessories across the Pacific. It's scouting locations in warm climes — including Southern California and Arizona. “We are talking with a number of major malls in Los Angeles and south of L.A.,” says Reid Fujita, who owns the company with his wife, designer Jonelle.
Famous in the Aloha state for its matching floral print mother-and-daughter sundresses, the chain already has a 15,000-square-foot store in The Rouse Co.'s Fashion Show Mall (above) in Las Vegas. Though Reid says it has taken longer than expected to get that store off the ground, sales have improved since an expansion last year. And he expects even more of an improvement next year after developer Steve Wynn opens up his newest resort, Le Reve, across the street. “It hasn't really hit its stride yet, but long term we're convinced it will do great,” says Reid.
Fujita won't provide sales figures for the Fashion show store, but says they are average to above-average by retail industry standards. Still, they remain “substantially below” the averages at the 12 Hawaiian stores.
To boost Las Vegas business and prepare for expanded sales on the continent, Jonelle has designed heavier clothes for cool evenings, including cotton cardigans and, for kids, outfits with long pants — apparel not often needed in the 50th state. “They have gone over very well in Las Vegas,” says Reid. The firm, a cottage industry employing family members for everything from manufacturing to delivery, also sells jewelry, hats, hair clips, slippers and home and bath items.
The Fujitas chose Las Vegas as its first mainland store because there is a large population of ex-Hawaiians there; more than 80,000.