Market City Celebrates 60

By Sandra Au Fong
Wednesday - October 08, 2008
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By Sandra Au Fong
Senior Vice President for Market City Shopping Center

Although my father loved buying and selling houses when I was growing up, never once did I think I would end up in the real estate business. I’ve always had a deep passion for fashion and had plans of opening my own dress shop after studying fashion merchandising at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. But after having our first son Nathan, I needed to find a job with flexible hours so that I could have more family time.

I had no prior experience and knew absolutely nothing about the real estate industry, but I picked up fast and developed marketing skills that enabled me to help clients buy and sell units and spaces. In 10 years, I’ve held positions at Stark Realty; owned my own business, Sandra Fong Realty, and joined the real estate firm, then Monroe & Friedlander, where I maintained a 100 percent lease of commercial and industrial space in five Honolulu buildings.

After I had our second son Timmy in 1985, I decided to use my real estate experience and marketing skills to help my husband Marvin spearhead the business growth and development of our family business, Market City Shopping Center. As senior vice president, I enjoy overseeing day-to-day property management tasks, negotiating new leases, maintaining tenant relations, and especially planning promotions to draw more visitors to our shopping center. My passion for interacting with different people and helping tenants’ businesses flourish drove me to get up every morning for the past 24 years.

Sandra and Marvin Fong of Market City Shopping Center

This year marks Market City Shopping Center’s 60th anniversary. It has been a long journey since our humble beginnings as a 3.5-acre vegetable patch that became one of the first modern shopping centers in Hawaii. Today we are home to 26 businesses and despite tough economic times and steep competition, we continue to stay 100 percent leased. The reason is simple: We are a family-oriented shopping center and that’s what separates us from our competitors.

Our Market City ‘ohana serves more than 100,000 consumers in the Kaimuki, Kapahulu, and Moiliili areas with anything from ono plate lunches and fine wines to haircuts and shoe repairs. Our award-winning restaurants- Formaggios, Gina’s Bar-B-Q, and Grace’s Inn-attract hungry visitors and keep them coming back for more. Fun Factory, Fujioka’s Wine Times, and Ben Franklin Crafts keep our community’s video gamers, wine enthusiasts and craft hobbyists happy. Our longtime tenant, Foodland Market City, was the first super market to open in Hawaii, and we recently welcomed Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Banana Leaf Italian Bistro to our team, adding to our list of great places to eat and gather at Market City.

Our annual holiday events, a favorite for families, always attract huge crowds. We kick off the year with a Chinese New Year celebration and end it with our annual Christmas tree lighting festivities, where we illuminate our landmark monkeypod tree and display our 32-foot Santa Claus.

We also care deeply about our community’s students. Through the Market City Foundation, we award scholarships to deserving seniors from our neighborhood high schools every year. Since 1993, the Foundation has awarded nearly $40,000 in scholarships.

We began our Market City journey in 1948, and we are proud to be one of the oldest family-owned shopping centers in Hawaii. And we continue to operate as a family-oriented place for everyone.

Although I grew up in a very traditional Chinese family with different traditions, there is one common value we share with everyone in Hawaii: the importance of family.

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