Turning the Page: MFOL Opens Kīhei Bookstore After Losing Lāhainā Location

by | Feb 5, 2024 | Outings, South Maui

Maui Friends of the Library Bookstore finds a new home in Kīhei

Maui Friends of the Library (MFOL) has been in existence here since 1912, when the first free public library on Maui was opened at the Alexander House Settlement in Wailuku.  For more than 110 years, volunteers have led this nonprofit, from running the board to managing the bookstores.  They’re as dedicated as they come.  

“Everybody is a volunteer.  Nobody gets paid,” explains Flo Wiger, president of the MFOL board of directors.  “This is their passion; they love this!  They are really engaged in this process.”  

Maui Bookstore Brings in Residents & Visitors

Books on the shelf at Kīhei bookstore on Maui

The bookstores offer an abundance of gently used, very affordable books (plus CDs, DVDs, cards, games and more) of all kinds, along with brand new Hawaiiana books. 

Their locations — at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center in Kahului, off Hansen Road in Pu’unēnē and in the Outlets of Maui in Lāhainā — have been beloved by locals and visitors alike for years.  

Maui Fires Claim the Lāhainā Bookstore

Lāhainā Bookstore at the Outlets of Maui
Lāhainā Bookstore at the Outlets of Maui, lost in the August 2023 fires

So when the Lāhainā bookstore was lost in the August fires, many volunteers felt a bit lost themselves.  Wiger has not yet been back to the site since it all happened.

“That store was so important to the people in Lāhainā.  It was a beautiful store; in the Outlets, so it was a brand new facility,” she recalls.  “I still have volunteers that call me on the phone and cry because it was such a place for them and it meant so much.”

New Kīhei Bookstore Opens

Outside of the Kīhei bookstore at South Maui Center
Outside of the Kīhei bookstore at South Maui Center, 95 E. Līpoa Street

Aiming to regain a sense of place and purpose, the group put energy into opening a bookstore in Kīhei, an idea that had been on the to-do list for years but now took on new meaning and urgency.  They combined two units at South Maui Center on 95 East Līpoa (near Fabiani’s Italian Restaurant and Bakery, 1054 Togoshi and Mind and Body Harmonics if you need some landmarks), renovating the spaces in record time to open their doors in January.  

Now comes the celebration to make it official:  MFOL is inviting the community to help mark the Kīhei store opening on Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 4 to 6 pm.  The event is open to the public; it will include a Hawaiian blessing by Kumu Derek Pono Murray, and refreshments for guests.

The 2,000-square-foot bookstore features 200 shelves with more than 1,000 gently-used fiction and nonfiction bookstore in all sorts of genres, a large selection of brand new Hawaiian books and plenty of books for kids.

Encouraging Young Readers

Kids section at Kīhei bookstore on Maui

“Our keiki section is huge; we have a lot of science fiction and fantasy that the older kids are into,” says bookstore manager Annie Wilson. 

The store is currently offering a BOGO deal — if an adult come in with a child and buys a book, the keiki can get any used book for no charge.  MFOL is also known for its book sales and events that offer free books to educators and homeschoolers.

Supporting Maui Libraries since 1912

Maui Friends of the Library nonprofit in 1955
Maui Friends of the Library back in 1955. Courtesy: MFOL

Proceeds from book sales go to support the eight Maui County Public Libraries and the Holoholo Bookmobile.  MFOL has been able to provide more than $100,000 a year to help Maui libraries purchase new books, audiobooks, music and films to add to their circulation, along with special programs and equipment, subscriptions and more. 

“A growing number of volunteers have worked tirelessly to make this bookstore a reality,” Wilson says. “I am so thankful for the people in this community and elsewhere who have stepped up to help. They’ve done an incredible job.”  

Many folks stopped by the store as work was underway and donated books that are now on the shelves.  In fact, this even happened during our interview, as you’ll see in the video above!

Celebrating with the Community

Hawaiiana Book on Maui Molokai and Lāna‘i ancient sites

“Having a store in this growing community of Kīhei has been a dream of ours for some time, “ says Wiger.  “ I hope many in the community will join us to mark this special day when we formally open our doors. We are very excited to be here.”  The new bookstore is open weekdays and weekends from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

The August fire also destroyed the Lāhainā library, and Wiger adds that they’re advocating to get a library back in place, along with another bookstore on the West side.  

But for now, the focus is on what CAN be done, and that’s in Kīhei.  She says they are immensely grateful for the chance to serve South Maui, and always welcome more volunteers and book donations.  Learn more on the Maui Friends of the Library website

The fires are still impacting many on Maui in large and small ways. If you need some help coping, Mindful Living Group shares some immediate actions you can take when you start to feel overwhelmed. #MauiAwareness #MauiInspired