Sir Wilfred’s celebrates four decades in business
LAHAINA – A funky store that reflects the personality of its owner, jazz fan Bill Burton, Sir Wilfred’s in 2016 is celebrating 40 years in business on Maui.
Lined with concert posters and photos of musicians, the 707 Front St. store sells high-quality coffee, tea and tobacco products.
Bill and Cathy Burton opened their first store in 1976 at Maui Mall with little fanfare. After 20 years, they sold the store to Stan Cohen in 1996.
In 1987, they opened a second location at Lahaina Cannery Mall.
“It took us two years to figure out the retail mentality in Lahaina,” Bill explained. “In 1992, we started our first webpage, email@example.com, and it is a valuable tool to survive.
“All those years, we had many celebs attend our store, such as Sharon Stone buying cigars, Robin Williams drinking coffee, Alice Cooper saying ‘hi’ to us and many more.”
In 1996, the couple started the benefit “I Love Lahaina” that is still held annually.
“With the help of Ron Metoyer, we raised thousands of dollars for all the schools on the West Side,” Bill added.
A diehard jazz fan, Bill through the years has coordinated performances by local artists and Oahu stars Gabe Baltazar, Jimmy Borges, Melveen Leed, Betty Lou Taylor and many more.
Musician and former co-worker Metoyer helps Bill stage the Front Street Blues and Jazz Festival and other Maui Jazz Society shows.
When the Hawaii Omori Corp. sold Lahaina Cannery Mall, the couple left the mall and opened a store at Whalers Village.
“By that time, we had a big following from mail orders, locals and tourists. We had George Benson singing at our opening,” Bill recalled.
In 1999, Sir Wilfred’s moved to Front Street. Bill feels his business is a “destination store” that has “drawn many folks to Front Street that wouldn’t have come otherwise.”
Sir Wilfred’s is also a family business.
“Cathy passed away of cancer in 2014. It has been difficult without her, but our son, Monte Burton, has taken over as manager and done great and many more changes for the good,” Bill said.
“Believe it or not, Sir Wilfred’s will survive – no matter who the next president of the USA will be!”